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Recommended Reading

If you’re lucky, you may find a few of these publications in your local library. Otherwise, search the titles and you’ll find them in your local bookstores or for purchase online.

Getting Started

  • You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise. by Joel Salatin. Polyface, 1998. (Joel Salatin has also authored several popular books on raising pastured livestock)
  • Exploring the Small Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You? by Kate Hayes and others. 2003. Belchertown, MA. New England Small Farming Institute.
  • The Organic Farming Manual: A comprehensive guide to starting and running a certified organic farm by Ann Larkin Hansen
  • No-Risk Ranching and also Comeback Farms by Greg Judy, Green Pastures Farm
  • The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming, by Jean-Martin Fortier

Business Planning and Profitability

  • Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses Published by Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, 2003. A step-by-step guide to developing a business plan, with a focus on agricultural businesses. Includes worksheets and farmer profiles/testimonials. Available online as a free PDF download, or in hard copy at Sustainable Agricultural Publications 802-656-0484 for $14.
  • The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops and Staff – and Making a Profit by Richard Wiswall, published by Chelsea Green Books. Written for organic vegetable farmers by a long-time VT farmer, this book is not specifically about writing a business plan but rather managing a successful business. But it covers all the fundamentals you need for a business plan, and includes a CD with cash flow spreadsheets, crop budgets, and more.
  • Starting an Ag Business: A Pre-Planning Guide by Steve Richards, NY FarmLink, 2004. A 63-page guide with worksheets that help aspiring or diversifying farmers thoroughly explore the feasibility of their farm business idea. Available in print copy for $15 from NY FarmNet, 800-547-3276. Also available for free download (PDF) here.

Marketing and Production

  • Growing for Market monthly journal for direct-market farmers, with articles written by farmers. Electronic and paper subscriptions available.
  • Selling at Farmers Markets – free download from Growing for Market magazine.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

  • Sharing the Harvest, Revised and Expanded: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture by Elizabeth Henderson, Robyn Van En
  • Community Supported Agriculture Handbook and other books on CSA available at the Robyn Van En Center at Wilson College.

Soil Health

  • Weed the Soil, Not the Crop: A Whole-Farm Approach to Weed Management by Eric and Ann Nordell
  • Managing Cover Crops Profitably, a publication of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education branch of USDA (available for free download).

Grazing

  • Grass-fed Cattle by Julius Ruechel. A comprehensive guide to the infrastructure and practices needed to raise healthy cattle on good grass, with important information on business management and marketing too. Available for free on Google Books.
  • Stockman Grass Farmer. A monthly publication devoted to the art of making profit by grazing.

Information on Any Type of Enterprise or Marketing

  • Visit the National Center for Appropriate Technology website. This is the only resource we’re listing here that’s not a book or magazine. But we couldn’t leave it out – it is one of the best online sources of information for any of the topics listed above, as well as anything else related to farming.