Funding our farm: loans, grants, and a gamble

By Caitlin Arnold, Furrow Horse Farm  When Brandon and I decided to start Furrow Horse Farm last January, we knew we were about to spend a lot of money. We were moving onto leased land that had no infrastructure, and we needed to build hoop houses and put up a deer fence. Since we had both been working for other farmers in the years after graduating from college, we didn’t have very much money saved, nor did we have inheritances or farmland... Read More

Our big goal: Giving back to veterans

By Hannah Becker, Willow Springs Farm It’s that time of year— a new year, new goals. For many entrepreneurs, the end of one year and the beginning of the next is a time to reflect and clarify goals. What have we accomplished? Where are we headed? What’s the best way to get there? A quick recap of 2015 Willow Springs Farm has developed from a 24-page business plan to an actual farm. This time last year, I recall telling my husband that, “if... Read More

Our farm is debt free … but that wasn’t the plan

By Hannah Becker, Willow Springs Farm Like many startups, my farm’s business plan has been tweaked a time or two. Initially, I wanted to start a commercial cow-calf operation, but I was unable to secure the financing necessary to get it off the ground. So instead I decided to explore a grass-fed beef operation and direct marketing opportunities, which offered lower startup costs plus higher profit margins. The downside was, the production cycle... Read More

Capital: the high cost of getting started – BOOTSTRAP AT WILLOW SPRINGS FARM

By Hannah Becker, Willow Springs Farm A neighboring farmer likes to joke, “You know how you make a million dollars as a farmer? Start out with two million!” While my comedic neighbor’s joke isn’t accurate, farming does take a LOT of money just to get the ball rolling. Start-up costs for a small-scale agriculture operation can quickly get into six or seven figures. Land, equipment, operating capitol, property improvement, livestock, seeds—it... Read More

New capital for new farmers : BOOTSTRAP AT OLD HOMEPLACE FARM

By Maggie Bowling, Old Homeplace Farm The winter before we started the buying club, we counted twenty-two deer in my future vegetable field over the course of one night. I’m sure you can imagine what we chose as our very first farm investment. Will has an off-farm job as an elk biologist (yes, there are elk in Kentucky), so luckily he already had experience building deer and elk barrier fences. One-and-a-half years later, and we still haven’t... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ NIGHTFALL FARM – BUILDING A FARM FROM SCRATCH

By Nate Brownlee of Nightfall Farm The differences between working on an established farm and starting your own were evident this month. Rather than learning the ropes and falling into developed routines, we’re recreating some systems that have worked on other farms. We’re solving problems unique to our farm. We’re spending a lot of time cobbling together equipment and systems. And often, that costs money. The animal groups we are raising this... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ LEMONADE SPRINGS FARM – MAKING DECISIONS ON EQUIPMENT

By Seth Douglas of Lemonade Springs Farm The question of equipment and capital, it seems to me, is really a question of what decisions you make about your daily work and your financial equilibrium and why you make them. Questions we ask regarding both tools used and money spent (both whose and how much) are those of means and ends- what will the application of a particular sort of funding or a tool mean to the possible success or failure of the farm,... Read More

BOOTSTRAP @ FORAGER FARM – ON EQUIPMENT AND CAPITAL:

By Hannah Sargeant of Forager Farm Unlike many other young farmers, we had access to land even before we made a concrete decision on whether to grow vegetables or not. We were fortunate enough to have family and friends willing to rent us a slice of land. Ultimately, we decided to rent land from some of our friends. This option allowed us access to some equipment as well as a place to live. Renting versus buying, whether land or equipment, allows... Read More

Young Farmers Rock the Boat in the Senate

Young farmers visit the office of Senator Snowe in Maine Yesterday was one of the most important moments in the 2012 Farm Bill process, the Senate Agriculture Committee vote.  Thanks to so many of you who took action over the last week and our partner organizations that joined with us on Farm Bill priorities, the bill that passed out of the Senate committee included some seriously good things for young and beginning farmers: More affordable capital... Read More