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Getting Started

Purdue Extension > Small Farms > Getting Started

Getting Started

Sometimes the hardest part of any activity is just figuring out how to get started. Once the ball gets rolling the job seems to become more and more clear. Starting a farm is no different. It can be a daunting experience for anyone, particularly if this is the first time you have held a shovel in your hand. There are so many different aspects that need to be taken into account

  • Planning
  • Soil preparation
  • Planting
  • Harvesting
  • Marketing

It can seem to be a lot when you are getting started. The good news is that we are here to help you get started and moving in the right direction. Gain as much knowledge as you can on the crops or animals you are hoping to raise, the business plan you will need to develop, the marketing strategy you will need to devise, as well as all of the management issues that come along with a farm enterprise.

Purdue University has years of experience working with farmers just like you. We can also help direct you in the right spot to get information from other organizations working in sustainable agricultural practices. There are numerous websites with loads of information out there waiting for you, just don’t get too overwhelmed with all that is available. All the information you need is just a click away.


Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreages

The Living on the Land series is a nationwide program for new farmers, including Indiana.Steve Engleking, the coordinator for this program in Indiana, and can tell you more about this program as well as provide you other resources to help you get started.

The Living on the Land program website from the University of Nevada Reno contains all of the modules online so if you are unable to sign up and participate in the course, reading through the information and presentations can also give you a better understanding for how to start a small sustainable farm on your property.


The Purdue Student Farm

Purdue University has been fortunate to have a group of serious students and faculty learning about agroecology and growing food on a small farm.For the past two years, students with the Full Circle Agriculture at Purdue (FCAP) have been managing the Purdue Student Farm, growing and selling vegetables to the Purdue community.They focus on experiential learning and providing food for the local community. Their website has a wealth of information about what they are doing and how to get started as well as contact information.

 

Additional Links and Information

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is a USDA supported organization that provides grants and education to advance innovation in agriculture. Indiana is part of the North Central SARE.This website provides information on grants that have been provided to sustainable agriculture throughout the USA.There is also information on how producers might be able to get a grant for innovation. You can also find a wealth of information in books, bulletins, fact sheets, and others on sustainable agricultural practices.

Farm Indiana has published a small farmer's guide with profiles of new farmers in Indiana, advice for starting, and further resources available when starting.

Cornell University has a website for their small farms program.They have numerous publications available online as well as news and events updates.The website is maintained often and has information being updated continuously. The only drawback for Indiana farmers is that some of the information is region specific for the Northeast USA.

Out of Oregon State comes a great book for first time farmers called, Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Planning Book Think it! Write it! The book covers practically everything you need to know to start a farm enterprise. It is a good place to start if you are just getting ready to go!

Two additional sources, Penn State University and Cornell University, have numerous PDF files and more links to help farmers get started. On the Cornell website they are also books on how to market or increase your production on small farms.

Think it! Write It! - A great book for first time farmers called, Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Planning Book Think it! Write it!  The book covers practically everything you need to know to start a farm enterprise. It is a good place to start if you are just getting ready to go!​

Purdue Contact

Steve Engleking, Indiana Small Farms Coordinator, LaGrange County