Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Course & Workbook

From The New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI) Quite simply, the purpose of Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Is Starting and Agricultural Business Right for You? is to help aspiring farmers answer that question. The aim is to help those thinking about small-scale commercial farming (farming as a business with intent to make a profit, rather than as a hobby or pastime), learn what it will take to start and manage a farm business, and decide whether that is something they really want to pursue. Recognizing that many "Explorers" will choose not to farm commercially, Exploring the Small Farm Dream also looks at other possibilities that can satisfy their interest in agriculture.

The Course

Exploring the Small Farm Dream has been offered as a course since 2000. Created to meet a need NESFI identified in its own backyard, the course has since been adopted by service providers in several states and in Canada. They, too, have found that the course provides an excellent framework to help new farmers assess their skills and interests, learn the realities of farm business ownership, and become connected to local resources. NESFI provides train the trainer sessions for new course sponsors and instructors, a course delivery guide, and support through this website. For information about joining the network of course providers, click here.

The Workbook

The decision-making workbook was originally created to support the classes. To meet the needs of “Explorers” who could not attend classes, the workbook was later re-designed to stand on its own. Since then, service providers have successfully used the workbook in a variety of ways in their work with new farmers:

To screen applicants to farm incubator or other programs that will require a large investment of resources in the farmer; In one-on-one coaching; In small peer groups; As required reading or a recommended resource in other ag business courses

Both classroom participants and individual workbook users are supported through the Exploring the Small Farm Dream workbook page and other resources in the For New Farmers section of this website.  Click here to find a PowerPoint presentation for new farmers that outlines the steps in the Exploring the Small Farm Dream decision-making process.

Individual copies of the workbook can be ordered through NESFI’s Bookstore.  To order multiple copies for courses, email warren@smallfarm.org.

Background of the Course
Become a Course Sponsor or Instructor
Resources for Sponsors and Instructors

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