For New Farmers
I am considering farming as part of my lifes work. How do I find help to guide my decision-making?
You are among many people of all ages and backgrounds who are exploring farming. You may be in school; you may be a "career changer." You may be thinking about farming full-time, or considering how to farm and also have another occupation. Many variations and options are possible!
Here are some things to think about:
- Find a mentor - many established farmers are interested in supporting and advising newer farmers, either informally or through organized networks coordinated by service organizations (see below).
- It can be very helpful to visit and/or work on farms, talk to farmers, attend workshops and conferences, surf the internet, join farming organizations, and subscribe to farming newsletters and other publications.
- Your farming pursuits may take different forms over time. It might make sense to start very small and part time, and slowly grow the business (or not). You may change your ideas about how and what you want to farm.
- Your personal, family and business goals will guide your decisions about farming. Perhaps the most important first step is to clarify these.
- There are some courses and workbooks specifically designed to help you at this stage of your decision process. This website is a great place to start surfing.
Here is a sample of resources:
Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You? Order this self-study guide or take a class in your area. NESFI is also in the process of developing a network of Farmer-Mentors; more information is available on the website.
Operating a Profitable Small Farm fact sheets, published by Maryland Cooperative Extension.
Cornell's Farming Alternatives Workbook, available through NRAES.