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University of Minnesota Extension
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Small farm startup school

Do you dream of starting or expanding a small farm or buying an acreage? Is it time to take the next step?

The small farm start-up workshop series will provide you with a solid background in all aspects of small farm operation and management. We offer basic agricultural information to help you make the correct farm purchase for starting or expanding a small farm or buying an acreage.  This course will help you be a good steward of your land and prepare you for more advanced learning opportunities.

The course begins with goal setting and individual property inventory, then addresses soils, crops, livestock, equipment, buildings, finances and marketing. You’ll also have plenty of time for networking and questions. Farm tours and farmer panels are included. All participants will develop a business plan.

Topics:

  • Taking stock: What do I have and what do I want to do? Develop short and long-term goals, complete an inventory and property map. Introduction to Extension and our resources and programs.
  • What can I do with my property? Local and state regulations and your goals. Production systems, marketing and economics for agricultural and rural enterprises. Farm transitions and land access.
  • Soil, water, air, climate: Learn about soil structure, health and fertility. Learn how to use integrated sustainable systems to be a good steward of all your natural resources. Regenerative and practical practices.
  • Buildings, equipment, crops and livestock: What do you want to produce? Learn about the buildings, equipment, power and supplies you'll need.
  • Woodlands and wildlife: Information to best care for your trees and woodlots. Invasive weeds, pollinators and wildlife habitats. Agroforestry. Silvopasture.
  • Home-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables: Successful vegetable and fruit production for home use or sale. Managing fruit trees and vines. Explore options for selling produce. Alternative production systems. Food safety planning.
  • Animal care and management: Animal husbandry, manure management, pasture management, zoning and permitting, labor required and costs of livestock; emphasis on poultry, sheep, goats and cattle.
  • Tours and panels: Visit small farm businesses to get ideas and inspiration. Q&A with farmer panel. Networking with suppliers, vendors, buyers, information providers.

Topics are subject to change based on the needs of the participants.

Cost

$249 covers two people from one farm

Price includes:

  • Registration for up to two people per farm.
  • Web access to all resources and course materials.
  • Business plan guidance.
  • Farm tours and farmer panels.
  • Networking with peers and experts.
  • Lots of handouts and resources.
  • Access to experts.
  • Evidence-based, unbiased information.

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