Beginner Farmer Resources

Colorado Resources for Beginner Farmers

Boulder County Cooperative Extension: Small Farms
On the Boulder County Cooperative Extension's Small Farms website you will find resources for Beginner Farmer workshops, funding opportunities and other CO state based resources for new farmers.


Colorado Agricultural Development Authority (CADA) Beginner Farmer Loan
The program involves a three-way transaction between the lender, the borrower and CADA. Through the issuance of a tax exempt bond by CADA to the lender, all interest paid by the borrower is tax exempt. The result is an interest rate to the borrower below commercial rates.


Healthy Community Food Systems: Beginner Farmer Resources
The HCFS Beginner Farmer Resources are aimed at helping new and growing farmers in the SW Colorado region. Resources inculde information about Land Link and Growing Farmer classes.



Financing a New Farm Operation

Beginner Farmer Financing Programs: Center for Rural Affairs
This resource list contains at least five sources of potential funding are available including the local bank, Farm Credit Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), Aggie Bond programs, and private contracts.


USDA Beginning Farmer Loan Programs
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is the traditional lender of last resort and has its roots in providing funds to beginning farmers. They provide loans with funding Congress appropriates each year with a portion targeted toward beginning farmers.


USDA: Small Farms Funding Opportunities
The USDA has a Small Farms website which includes a webpage of over a dozen different funding sources for small farmers. The funding sources include USDA grant programs as well as grants from independent foundations.



Beginner Farmer Workshops: Nationwide

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farming Training (CRAFT)
Angelic Organics Learning Center offers The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) Program. CRAFT offers on-farm training and business planning skills provided directly from established farmers. Founded in 1997 by a group of family farmers, CRAFT is working to train our next generation of organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farmers.


Cultivating Success: Sustainable Small Farms Education
Cultivating Success helps farmers get started on the path of success. Cultivating Success was developed by Washington State University and the University of Idaho with the goal of increasing the number and fostering the success of small farmers.


Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers
The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers has been designed to provide the opportunity for motivated individuals to educate themselves about pasture-based dairy and livestock farming. The school offers specialized training through traditional classroom activities, hands-on internships, and farm tours of pasture-based farms managed by successful graduates and mentors.



Online Resources for Beginner Farmers

Cornell University: Beginning Farming 101 - Online Farm Planning Course
The Cornell University Cooperative Extension offers an online 9-week course to help new farmers develop a business plan, while evaluating how to make a viable business out of farming.


The Virtual Grange

An online community and hub for beginning farmers, managed by Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Participate in forums, watch technical tutorials, and read the latest agricultural news.  Find out about upcoming conferences, workshops, and apprenticeship opportunities in your region.



Land Link Programs

California FarmLink
California FarmLink provides a range of services to facilitate a transition from one farmer or landowner to the next generation of farmers.


Center for Rural Affairs: Land Link Resources
The Center's Land Link program serves to increase opportunities for beginning farmers while encouraging good stewardship. Computer data base matching and consulting services bring beginning farmers and landowners together. Retirement planning, beginning farmer financing, farm business, and environmental assessment information is used to assist in transferring family operations to a new generation of farmers and ranchers.


National Farm Transition Network
The National Farm Transition Network supports programs that foster the next generation of farmers. In particular, the Network helps to develop Land Link Programs around the country. The website has a list of all the states that are participating in Land Links.



Business Planning Guides for New Farmers

Cornell University Cooperative Extension: New Farmer Hub
This resource website helps new farmers think through a new farming business to evaluate how to create an economically viable operation.


Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses
Published by Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, 2003.
This is a 280 page, 5 chapter, step-by-step guide to developing a business plan- with a focus on agricultural businesses. The publication includes worksheets and farmer profiles/testimonials.


Exploring a Market Farm Business
Adrian Card, of the Boulder County Extension Office, has developed this 2-page fact sheet to help prospective farmers really analyze whether farming is a viable business option for them. Card talks about the importance of developing a solid business approach to farming as they key for success.


Exploring the Small Farm Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You?
Published by The New England Small Farm Institute, 2003.
This is an 86 page, 5 chapter workbook designed to help individuals who are exploring the possibility of starting a small farm.


Marketing, Business & Risk Management: ATTRA Resources
These resources can guide agricultural business planning and help farmers manage the amount of risk in their enterprises. In addition, some of these resources offer advice on diversifying, developing new markets and adding value to farm products to increase income.


Small Farm Handbook, University of California: Small Farm Center
At last, a practical, easy-reading guide for people interested in operating a successful small farm is available. New and experienced farmers alike will benefit from tips on livestock and crop production, buying property and equipment, dealing with taxes and regulations, marketing, maintaining healthy family relationships, and much more. Easy-to-use worksheets allow you to customize the information to fit your farming goals.


Starting an Ag Business: A Pre-Planning Guide
By Steve Richards, NY FarmLink, 2004.
This is a 63-page guide with worksheets that help aspiring or diversifying farmers thoroughly explore the feasibility of their farm business idea.



Farmer Apprenticeship Programs

ATTRA: Sustainable Farming Internships & Apprenticeships
This directory of on-the-job learning opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture in the U.S. (and some in Canada) has been published since 1989 as a tool to help farmers and apprentices connect with each other. The listed farms are primarily seeking interns/apprentices from North America.


Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI)
Michael Fields offers seasonal agricultural tuition-based immersion programs, short-term courses, workshops and tours. Curriculum from previous sessions emphasized biodynamic and organic farming practices, including soil fertility, food production techniques, plant classification and culture, transplant and greenhouse production, tool and equipment use, crop rotation, organic vegetable marketing, and subscription sales.


University of California at Santa Cruz, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS)
The CASFS at UC Santa Cruz offers a six-month Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture on the campus's 25-acre farm and 4-acre Chadwick Garden.



New Farmer Success Stories

Profitable Practices & Strategies for a New Generation
Profitable Practices and Strategies for a New Generation brings you the stories of people making a difference in rural America. There are several stories of New Farmers in rural areas.