Table of Contents
II. Finding Land
III. Locating Capital
IV. Equipment needed to farm
V. You’ve grown it – now what?
VI. Selling – Marketing
VII. Business Skills, Planning, and Administrative Tasks
VIII. Tilian – The Work We Do
I – Introduction Tilian and four-season farming
- Mission and history – Including programs such as the Incubator, Residency defined separately from the establishment of Tilian and its overall purpose.
- Spring, Summer, and Fall farming
- Winter Farming
- Hoop house construction options
- Field crop, storage crops versus hoop production
- Are there specific issues associated with 4 Season Farming?
- Cold frames
- Challenges for New Farmers – Make this a short intro piece that references the other longer pieces.
- Start-up Challenges
- Financial barriers
- Farming Challenges
- Business Challenges
- Mentors and other community connections for beginning farmers:
- Linking beginning farmers to retiring farmers.
- Linking farmers to helpful organizations (Grange).
- Farmer-to-farmer meetings.
- Lessons learned for other development groups
- Lessons learned from Tilian
- Start-up Challenges
II – Finding Land and Land Issues – Both actual farm lands and non-traditional farmlands. The process of finding and gaining access to farmland.
- Leasing versus buying
- Access to land:
- Through a school, church, other non-traditional “farms.”
- Urban lots
- Land trust
- Zoning laws.
- Real Estate expertise, connections, law, resources.
- Farming for a private developer in a “planned development” (this is big in the South).
- Agriculture Value Tax Assessment for Farmland.
- Property Tax Exclusions for Farm Buildings.
- Groups/People who help – (Barry Lonik, Selma Cafe, etc.)
Other Land Issues
- Climate and Soil Considerations – How to determine fertile land
- Legal Aspects of Rural Living
- Forest Land Resources
- Agricultural District Law Provisions
III – Locating Capital – Options for accessing and generating funds
IV – Equipment needed to farm – What you will need to buy (land, equipment, seeds … )
- Purchasing tools and equipment of appropriate scale – This section should discuss the various ways to locate and purchase equipment. Probably will refer to an appendix (e.g. websites that sell farm equipment).
- Tool and equipment maintenance.
- Farm Vehicle Regulations
- List of what a farm needs (land, equipment, workers, seeds, etc.) – Probably simply reference an appendix.
- “Farm Starter Kit” for graduates of the program and others
- A listing of local land identified as potential four-season farms,
- A flexible package of loans/grants,
- Expertise and paid/volunteer resources to build new farm infrastructure (e.g., hoop-houses)
V - You’ve grown it – Now what?
- Post harvest handling of produce
- Washing and food safety
- Sorting and grading
- Health code restrictions
- GAP Regulations – pertinent regulations when selling to institutions.
- Environmental issues
- EPA laws regarding run off and chemical application
- Organic farming vs. other options
VI – Selling – Marketing – How to make money
- Basic rules for Marketing and Selling
- Assessing Inventory
- Pricing – How to price items, products. Retail, wholesale, organic versus non-organic.
- Planning and projections [in Business Skills Section?]
- Customer Relations –
- How to maintain retention rate within your CSA, use of surveys and other forms of user feedback (e.g., changing the scope or quantity of the share, changing distribution points and times).
- How to work with/communicate with chefs (e very tricky prospect).
- How to keep grocery clients.
- How to talk with your customers at market and convey to them the value of your products, etc.
- 4. Finding markets – Distribution channels
- Sales to other CSAs – As small farms specialize, and the demand for CSA goes up, farmers will want to offer a more diverse range of foods than they are willing or capable of growing themselves.
- Retail (co-ops,
- University, Public Schools
- Hospitals, Other institutional buyers (e.g., prisons).
- Value added products
- Market saturation/niches
VII – Business Skills, Planning, and Administrative Tasks
- Record Keeping
- Basic accounting
- Learn how to use spreadsheets, QuickBooks, and other computer/electronic tools, etc.
- Income Taxes
- Sales Tax Exemptions/Refunds
- Business Plans
- Business Structures
- Operating Agreements – Discussion about operating agreements, especially important for a multi-member LLC (like Seeley Farm). How to write them, what to include, buy-sell agreements, etc.
- Insurance – Health, all-farm, liability, and otherwise (per Alex – someone mentioned “Key Person Insurance” as a good idea for a 2-member LLC)
- What to buy and when
- Health insurance options
- Farm Insurance
- Labor topics
- Payroll and Worker Documentation
- Payment for workers
- Worker’s comp
- Internships and/or apprenticeships
- Legislation and Regulation
- Policies that affects farmers. Advocate for beginning farmers with policy makers. Give examples of policy in Michigan only.
- Tax credits or breaks – Nebraska’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act makes it possible for established farmers to receive a tax credit when they rent equipment, livestock, or land to a beginning farmer or rancher. Nebraska tax incentive programs encourage cooperation with beginning farmers or ranchers.
- Understanding the farm bill from year to year
VIII - Tilian – The Work We Do
- Structure and operation of 4-Season Farmer Development Program – A how-to for other groups to replicate what we do.
- Run like a business – the need to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.
- Document Advisory Board meeting attendance and minutes, consultations with local farmers and business owners
- Agencies to work with
- Foundational structure
- Community organizations to draw upon
- Volunteer/Employee/Personnel structure
- Document participant farmer attendance at the farm, meetings, etc. Hours and tasks completed.
- Participant farmers will assist in the tracking of produce harvest and sales as part of their individual business plans.
IX – Appendices
- Database of farmers in the county, ages (when retire), size of farm, etc.
- List of items needed for a small farm with rough pricing (new/used).
- Useful websites for beginning farmers:
- The Green Horns: land, policy, health care, opportunities, finance, etc)
- Small Farm @ Oregon State & Northeast Beginning Farmer – Good resource to further research the development and construction of small farms (inclusive of all aspects we’re trying to cover)
- Buying seeds online
- Buying tools online
- Buying equipment online – e.g. hoophouse materials, irrigation, tractors, etc.
- US Department of Agriculture
- The beginning farmer’s project of Cornell University’s Guide to Farming
- Center for Rural Affairs Beginning Farmer Guide
- Successful strategies for beginning farmers: Twelve-step program for beginning farmers.
- Four Season Farms
- Realtime Farms
- Beginning Farmers,
- Hoophouse @ MSU
- Revolving loan fund
- USDA ‘Seasonal High Tunnels’ / Hoophouse Project