How to Start a Small Scale Farm

Starting a small scale farm can be exciting and fun. The idea of growing your own food and then supplying others is very gratifying. You must decide in the beginning if this is endeavor is going to be a hobby or a business. Either way you must have a plan. A business plan- a place where you can store these ideas and play with them on paper until they come to fruition. It will allow you to vocalize a common sense of direction that will become your elevator pitch in time to communicate your mission. This plan is not set in stone, they can and will change as you grow and find out what does and does not work.
Small Farm
I was attending the University of Arizona Agriculture Extension, College of Life Sciences (CALS) in Phoenix, Arizona this week. We were speaking to students in the Master Farmers class about having a business plan. Dr. Trent Teegerstom was going through the steps of writing a business plan and all of the different aspects of each portion. I remember when I first started my business plan was mostly written on the back of restaurant napkins as I told the story of the Lucky Nickel Ranch to my then fiancé. I now have a more formal written business plan with pictures and diagrams directing and leading our steps as we grow. Today that napkin plan is framed and hangs on a wall to remind us that all of this started with a plan, a vision, and a mission statement.

There are many places in which you can obtain a business plan outline. It is a place to start with your plan and that is the key term here it is your plan. You can have or not have all of the 5 points that you want.  There are many resources available to you. You can go to the library, your local SBA Small Business Administration lender or your Junior college will have books and literature to assist you. There are also resources online for basic business plans at no cost.

Remember that unless you right these ideas down they are just ideas. Once you write them down, you will have a plan, a sense of direction and some accountability.

Building a business plan is relatively simple

Tell me what you are going to do.  For example I am going to raise certified organic grass fed beef.

Why are you going to do it? There is a lack of supply or the cost is too high in my area to afford to buy commercially available fresh grass fed beef.

How are you going to do it? I am going to buy, or rent a piece of land and build fences to pasture my beef. etc

Who are you going to do it for?   I am going to do it for myself and my family.

This alone will get you started writing your plan each question is a heading or topic and inside will be a  lot more questions to be answered. It may help to enlist the help of a skeptic. They tend to bring out the worst possible scenarios, and you can overcome them on paper before they happen. Then at least you have a plan of direction. It may not work out that way in the end, but it is a place to start.