MOFGA Farm Beginnings® Course Offers New Farmers Business Planning Skills

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is accepting applications for its Farm Beginnings whole-farm business planning course through October 1, 2015.

MOFGA Farm Beginnings is a sequence of intensive workshops designed to guide new farmers through the process of articulating a clear farm vision, establishing realistic goals and measures, and enacting a holistic plan to achieve a fulfilling and sustainable farm business.

According to a recent program graduate, “The Farm Beginnings business class brought great focus to our existing farm data and helped us start putting records and systems in place to get a better picture of how the farm and business function. It helped us to make informed decisions on how to change.”

The course is built around a series of seven 6-hour sessions on Sundays from October through March, plus a two-day “Farm Smarter, Not Harder” session with Richard Wiswall, organic farmer and author of “The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook.” A number of shorter workshops are held in January at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta. Each session is farmer-led and professionally facilitated with course material covered through a combination of classroom presentations, guided readings, group discussions and exercises, guest speakers and panels.

Through the course, participants develop a detailed picture of their farm, skills and available resources; establish marketing, enterprise and finance plans; and learn to employ professional business management tools. Mentor-farmers, service providers and technical experts provide ongoing feedback and review final farm plans, providing useful guidance to help new farmers bridge the transition to independent farming successfully.

The 2015-2016 MOFGA Farm Beginnings course will be offered in two locations — at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity and at The Resilience Hub in Portland. To ensure a high level of personalized attention and inclusive class discussions, registration is limited to 15 farms per meeting site, and participants should have at least one year of production data to draw upon prior to enrollment.

Course tuition is $750 per farm, and attendance by all farm stakeholders is encouraged. Numerous scholarships are available. For more information, including the course schedule and application, click here or contact Daniel MacPhee, MOFGA educational programs director, P.O. Box 170, Unity, ME 04988; 207-568-4142;

This year’s course is offered in partnership with the Maine Farmland Trust.