The Farm Beginnings Program helps aspiring and practicing farmers to create detailed goals, to strategically plan for the growth of their farming enterprises, to learn the basic skills around financial planning and marketing, and to look at various land tenure options. In addition to 7 class sessions, there are also private mentoring sessions with a farmer of one’s choosing and 4 field days on local farms. The Farm Beginnings Program starts in late October and ends in late winter.
Hudson Valley Farm Beginnings® has been developed by farmers for farmers. Aspiring and current farmers, transitioning farmers, second career farm entrepreneurs, and landowners interested in developing farming enterprises on their land are all welcome to register for courses and workshops.
The Farm Beginnings Whole Farm Planning Course has been developed and is taught by sustainable farmers from the Hudson and Pioneer Valleys. The course is tailored to the varying needs of the students each year. The original curriculum was developed by the Land Stewardship Project and Angelic Organics Learning Center and has since been customized to meet the needs of Northeast farmers.
The program includes sixty-three hours of class time, individual mentoring session with an experienced farmer, and participation in two Farm Beginnings Field Days. Funding support provided by a grant from the USDA.
Program focus: Goal setting, sound financial management, strategic farm business planning, access to support networks and colleagues.
Participants convene twice monthly from October through January on Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm. Sessions include various written exercises, discussion, and presentations by local, ecologically-minded livestock and crop farmers, vegetable growers, extension specialists, ecologists, farm business professionals, and others.
- Clarifying your values — setting personal and strategic goals
- Developing your farm enterprises — strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities
- Creating a financial plan
- Developing a strategic timeline for developing your farm
- Marketing your products including distribution options and how to develop pricing strategy
- Land access, tenure, and lease agreements
In addition to the classroom sessions and field days, Whole Farm Planning Course participants receive a two-hour mentoring session with an experienced farmer operating an enterprise of relevance.
Please see details for this year’s program below.