Farm Viability Series

Farm Viability Workshop Series

Please join us for a comprehensive week of Growing Farmer workshops and guest speakers focusing on topics of farm viability. The arc of this series will provide beginning farmers with a tool kit of resources and tips for starting a farm. We’ll hear directly from experienced farmers, business consultants, loan officers, and land consultants in lecture format with time for Q&A. Workshops are available as a complete curriculum or in individual sessions. All workshops will run from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm with a one hour lunch break from 12:30 – 1:30 pm.

Please reach out to shannona@stonebarnscenter.org with any questions.

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Learn more about our Growing Farmer workshops and watch for updates on our Events Calendar!

Session Details:

Monday, November 18th: Planning a Farm Business
Speaker: Julia Shanks
Launching a successful farm business is one part production and one part business management. In this day-long workshop we’ll focus on the business side of the operation… from understanding your costs to setting business goals.  We will discuss cost of production calculations, pricing strategies and break-even analysis. We will use these new skills to outline a business plan and strategy for launching.

Tuesday, November 19th: Marketing Off of the Farm
Speakers: D. Rooney, Max Morningstar, Maria Zordan, Sarah Lyons Chase, Jason Grauer, Mike Peterson, and Trevor Swope
Join us for a day of back to back workshops with regional farmers as we discuss marketing and supply chain models that they have created and operate on their farms. Each farm will discuss the pros and cons of their marketing outlets, how the farm and systems are designed to fulfill the necessary requirements of relating with these market channels, and the types of investment needed to generate readiness for such. Each farm has a unique model and will highlight particular points that they bring to the table such as: focusing on food access as part of a core value system of your farm, grazing for profit, on-site sales, grocery accounts, wholesale, CSA models and restaurant relationships.

Wednesday, November 20th: Farmland Access – Plan to Find the Right Farm
Speaker: Tim Biello
For farmers who are seeking land, most do not accidentally stumble upon the perfect farm and even fewer gain easy access to farmland at the exact time they need or want it.  This doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, but it does mean farm seekers should take seriously the process of planning for and finding the right farm. This process includes self-assessment of current strengths and areas where more skill or experience is needed, clear goal setting based on a solid business plan and including personal considerations, identifying and using targeted resources, as well as developing and holding oneself accountable to prioritized next steps.  This full day intensive will focus on these aspects of the farmland access process.  The workshop will include presentation, individual and small group projects, as well as full group discussions.  Participants will leave with new resources to use and a Finding Farmland Action Plan in-hand.

Thursday, November 21st: Loans and Grants to Build Farm Infrastructure
Speakers: Caroline Pam, Katie Bodzinski, Myra Marcellin
We’ll hear from Caroline Pam, co-owner of Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland MA. Caroline recently built a new wash pack barn and commercial processing kitchen on her 50 acre organic vegetable farm. This talk will cover the multi year planning and design process and how the farm accessed FSA and Farm Credit financing, as well as federal and state grants for the buildings, equipment, and a 25kW solar array. Caroline will be joined by Katie Bodzinski from USDA FSA, who will discuss federal financing options for land, infrastructure and operating expenses. Myra Marcellin from Farm Credit East will also join the discussion and share information about the Farm Start program that provides working capital to Northeast beginning farmers in the first three years of business.

Friday, November 22nd: Farming Cooperatively
Speaker: Faith Gilbert
This day-long session will introduce cooperative business models, share examples from the wide landscape of collaborative food systems projects, and cover the legal, financial, operational, and social considerations for effective group businesses.