This past Monday the first in a six part series of Sprouting Growers workshops was held at the Ag. Campus here at UT Knoxville. This was the Business Planning workshop and was led by UT Extension area farm specialist Alice Rhea. There was a good turnout of about 25 people from a variety of backgrounds, from students to new farm owners to older farmers who were trying to figure out how to pass their farm onto the next generation. Alice had an impressive wealth of information and the 3 hour workshop was very in depth. Luckily we were given pamphlets, business cards, a book and a great business planning binder that discussed everything from making a business plan to farm budgeting procedures. I have to say, I was overwhelmed by all of the information but only in a good way. It is always more fun to think of looking at acres of tomatoes or of the future satisfaction of working your own land but the not so much fun things like financing and investment have to be given their time, too, if success is what you are looking for. Alice also told us about amazing services that UT Extension either offers now or will be offering in the future. For instance, if you are thinking of starting a farm, you can contact your county’s Extension area farm specialist and they will sit down with you and crunch every number you have ever dreamed of to figure out how much you need to borrow, what you will profit from growing and how much of it you need to grow to turn a profit. Also, Extension is currently assessing the potential for a program which pairs older farmers who want to keep their land in agriculture with younger people who want to farm but cannot afford to buy a large chunk of land. This way the younger crowd gets to farm and profit from their efforts and the older crowd has the comfort of knowing that their land stays in production and they don’t have to sell their farm to retire. As a future Extension agent, I am constantly amazed by the wide scope of Extension, especially when it comes to thinking of the future of Tennessee lands.
If you are interested in starting your own farming operation soon or far into the future I strongly recommend attending the next Sprouting Growers workshops. The next part in the series is about Production Planning. These workshops are FREE! But registration is required. So sign up and come get some great information. Here’s the link for future workshops, http://vegetables.tennessee.edu/sprouting_growers_workshops.html.
Hope to see you there!