Confession: I have no real farming knowledge, not really. Everything I’ve learned has been through lots of research, volunteering with far more knowledgeable people, and trial and error on the ground. Oh, and there have been errors and inefficiencies galore.
Late last year, I started looking at some of the different online resources, coursework, and apprenticeships available. I also felt vaguely panic stricken every time I thought about starting my own enterprise simply because I had no clue where to begin. A business plan? How the heck do you write a business plan when you’re not even sure what you want to do?!
Like I said, I was feeling overwhelmed – until I finally pulled on my big girl panties and decided to jump right in and start learning exactly how much I don’t know about agricultural enterprises. I’m so thrilled with the resources I’ve found so far, I wanted to share.
- Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You?, New England Small Farm Institute. First, I ordered this amazing workbook (there’s a course, too, offered in various locations around the US). The workbook is broken into four sections: Assess Yourself, Research the Landscape, Assess Your Resources, and Make a Decision and Plan Next Steps. The way this workbook is written and the MANY exercises and worksheets have proven to be eye opening and instructive, at least for a total newbie/person just beginning to consider a business in agriculture. You can order it for $25 from the NESFI’s bookstore.
- Growing Places (online course), University of Vermont’s Women’s Agricultural Network. I happened upon this course and thought it must have been created just for me. Seriously. This four-week course, offered in-person and online, is designed to help you explore the idea of starting a farm or other ag-related enterprise. During the four weeks, I will be working through six modules: Mission Statement and Goal Setting, Decision Making, Resource Evaluation, Financials, Marketing, and Next Steps.
- UVM Course, Week One: Goal Statement. Week one has focused on identifying your core values, what activities support those values, and what you want to leave behind. I usually shy away from stuff like this, but now I feel like a total boob for having made it 33 years and never considering how I really want to live my life. I can share the worksheets that helped me develop the goal statement, too, if anyone is interested.
- Garden Planting Calendar, All Things Plants. Speaking of getting the knowledge (and don’t forget SKILLZ) you need now, I happened across this amazing resource that any gardener can put to use today. In goes your zip code, out comes a schedule for when you need to start your seedlings! I also like that it gives me free license to start artichoke seedlings at the end of this month (see, Chris?), just when I am most in need of a little light, the smell of earth, and some itty bitty green beings poking through the soil.
- Your Money, Your Life, Your Happiness (video). When is enough truly enough? Did that dinner out on the town really bring you enough joy to make it worth the xx number of hours you must work at your hideous, soul-crushing job to pay for it? Local foods, bartering, reallocating your time so you’re doing more of the things you want to be doing – just a few of the many ideas jammed into this 30-minute video.
Do you have any resources you can’t wait to share? I’d love to hear about them!