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
- Soil preparation
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
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
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!
Steve Engleking, Indiana Small Farms Coordinator, LaGrange