Community Farm Informational Meeting! Please Join Us!

February 1st, 2014

table of pumpkin pond vegies Sustainable Nantucket Community Farm INFORMATIONAL MEETING

Monday, February 10th  6pm Read the rest of this entry »

Upcoming Agricultural Workshop on Poultry and 4-Legged Processing!

April 24th, 2013

Please join us for an exciting and innovative FREE workshop about a successful Poultry and 4-legged processing on Martha’s Vineyard!

On Tuesday, May 14 from 1pm-2:30pm at The Hayloft, Bartlett’s Farm, we will hear from Richard Andre and Jeff Monroe of Martha’s Vinyard’s Island Grown Initiative (IGI)  on their success with a local mobile processing solution for chickens and the process they are in of developing a 4-legged processing facility on-island. Read the rest of this entry »

Agricultural Business Planning Courses Scheduled for Early ’12

August 19th, 2011

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is offering workshops January – March of 2012 for those in varying stages of agricultural business.

Explorers – For those who are thinking about getting into farming or expanding a hobby to an income-generating scale, “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” delivers experienced Instructor guidance and timely peer group feedback for making informed decisions about whether and how to proceed in farming. Five sessions over 6 weeks on weekday evenings in Amherst and Marlborough. Cost per enterprise: $125.

Planners – for those a step or two beyond Explorer who have access to land and a stronger sense of what they want and are capable of doing, “Planning for Start-up” provides a gut check before making more significant investments of time and money. Requires completion of Explorer, or prior self-guided completion of the Explorer workbook. Applicants must have already reached the decision to farm on a revenue generating scale. Six session over 8 weeks on Saturday mornings in Amherst and possibly also in Marlborogh based on regions demand. Cost per enterprise: $175.

Established Farmers – For those already operating and agricultural enterprise with at leaset two years of production and sales records, and who need to develop a comprehensive business plan on paper, “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity” offers a chance to assess, regroup, assemble documentions for decision making, consider redirection, plan expansion, or approach ownership transer. This course draws on extensive peer experience, instructor knowledge and guest speakers with the addition of substantial indivuidual technical assistance at course condclusion. 10 sessions over 11 weeks on weekday eveninings in Amherst and Marlborough. Cost per enterprise: $225.

Explorer and Tilling the Soil courses are limited to 12 farms/potential agricultural businesses, with an option to bring a key partner at no extra cost. Planner is limited to 10. Full attendance is require to get expected results. Fees are kept low through MDAR support.

Please request additional details and an application for the course that fits you best. Courses will fill quickly in the Fall. Email requests to, or CLICK HERE

USDA Organic Cost Share Program Applications Now Available

March 18th, 2011

Applications are now available through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources for Organic Cost Share Reimbursement. The Department has been awarded funds from the United States Department of Agriculture through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program for reimbursement to organic crop and livestock producers as well as processors that have been certified by a certifying agent.

Reimbursement is available to production and processing operations certified and/or receiving continuation of certification during the period of October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011. Payments to eligible producers and processors will be limited to 75% of an individual’s costs up to a maximum of $750.00.

Click here for reimbursement forms, or contact Ellen Hart, 617-626-1742,

Financial, Business & Planning Resources

December 28th, 2010

Financial Resources:


(Includes organizations working in more than one state or region.)

The Carrot Project in cooperation with our non-profit and lending partners offer loans in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine.

Cooperative Fund of New England provides loans to all types of cooperatives.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was approved in 1996 by amending the Food Security Act of 1985 (Farm Bill), reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and again reauthorized in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.  EQIP provides a voluntary conservation program for farmers, ranchers and owners of private, non-industrial forest land that promotes agricultural production, forest management and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible producers install or implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

Equity Trust helps people set up innovative ownership models for land protection throughout the country. and provide technical assistance to many more farms working to gain security. Plus, they have a revolving loan fund.

Farm Credit is the largest agricultural lender in New England and New York. They have offices throughout throughout the region.

FarmStart, a program of First Pioneer Farm Credit and CoBank, assists beginning farmers and new cooperatives with seed capital. For more information contact 800-562-2235 or (Southern New England and Eastern New York).

National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs has a directory of finance programs offered by each state department of agriculture.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service assists land owners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance for many conservation activities. There are multiple service centers in each state.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency is the federal government’s lender that works with farmers who cannot get loans from a commercial bank.

USDA Rural Development Promotes economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks and community-managed lending pools. REAP offers technical assistance and information to help agricultural and other cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their member services.  Rural Development achieves its mission by helping rural individuals, communities and businesses obtain the financial and technical assistance needed to address their diverse and unique needs.


First Pioneer Farm Credit with an office in Middleboro, MA.

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources offers various technical assistance, grant, and resource programs.

Massachusetts’ Farm Service Agency is the federal government’s lender in Massachusetts that works with farmers who cannot get loans from a commercial bank.

Washington Bank in Lowell.

Planning Resources:


(Includes organizations work in more than one state or region.)

AGPLAN: The agricultural, fisheries, and Small Business Planning website provides step by step guided instructions to help rural business owners develop a business plan free of charge.

ATTRA: National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service provides information and other technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States. This link takes you to their information about marketing, business, and risk management. A knowledge and networking resource for farmers and potential farmers, educators, activists, and policy makers interested in small, diverse, locally-based, sustainable farming.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Resources: For Basic Bookkeeping, Budgeting, Tax Recordkeeping, other stuff. This is a blog with links to helpful resources used in presentations and other venues.

Cornell University’s Small Farm Program business management resource is helpful for planning and managing your business or visit their sister site for Beginning and Diversifying Farms.

Equity Trust: Helps small farmers across the country set up innovative ownership models for land and they have a revolving loan fund.

Farm Aid: Has a Farmer Resource Network which includes contacts for Financial Counseling and Referrals.

Farmers’ Legal Action Group: Provides disaster assistance resources. The USDA Risk Management Agency’s website designed to walk small to medium scale farmers or ranchers through every step of business and risk management planning. It will support farmers and ranchers who are starting a new business, managing or growing an existing business, or planning for succession.

Field to Table: works in New England and offers business planning, marketing, energy and other technical assistance to farmers (and others, particularly coops).

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project: Has developed a plain language guide for applying to USDA Farm Service Agency Loans.

Small Business Development Centers: Are located around the country and provide business planning assistance to all types of small businesses. Their services are free or low cost. Even if an office does not have agricultural expertise, they can still be of assistance in helping to put your business plan and financials together.


The Carrot Project: In cooperation with our non-profit and lending partners offer loans in Massachusetts.

Franklin County Community Development Corporation: Provides small business planning assistance and operates the Food Processing Center for Western, MA.

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources: Offers two different agricultural business training programs for farms at different stages of development and technical assistance through the Farm Viability Program.

Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network: Connects you to small business development centers around Massachusetts which provide business planning assistance to all types of small businesses. Their services are free or low cost.

New England Small Farm Institute: Partners with the MA Department of Agriculture to offer a business planning course called Exploring Your Small Farm Dream.

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project offers Farmer Business Training courses two times a year for ALL beginning farmers.

SEMAP (Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership) offers various business technical assistance resources and workshops for farmers in MA and RI.

National, State & Local Agricultural Organizations

December 17th, 2010

ATTRANational Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has lots of useful info on their web site, as well as an email newsletter that’s full of timely announcements and updates. Because of funding cuts, this organization has merged with NCAT (see below).

MDARMassachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has a wealth of valuable resources for farmers, including sources of funding, training, and more. They have a bi-monthly e-newsletter, the Farm & Market Report. Click here to sign up.

NCAT Sustainable Agriculture ProjectThe National Center for Appropriate Technology is a private nonprofit organization which manages a series of projects that promote self-reliance and sustainable lifestyles through wise use of appropriate technology. Its programs deal with sustainable and renewable energy, energy conservation, resource-efficient housing, sustainable community development, and sustainable agriculture. Sustainable Agriculture Project – services are available to farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, Extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations, and others involved in agriculture, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or belong to traditionally underserved communities.

NESFI – New England Small Farm Institute’s web site maintains a collection of small farm information, learning tools and program services that are updated on a regular basis. Lots of good info for beginning farmers (10 years or less).

NOFA/MassThe Northeast Organic Farming Association is a community of farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers who provide education and information on local organic growing practices. They offer programs, workshops, conferences, organic certification and more. Sign up for their newsletter here.

SEMAPSoutheastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership is a community partnership working to support our regional farms. They offer an online directory of member farms, resources for farmers and are the engine behind the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign on Cape Cod. To receive the SEMAP newsletter, click here. To receive the Buy Fresh, Buy Local newsletter, click here.

Publications for Farmers

December 17th, 2010

New Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers from American Farmland Trust. This guide explains how producers can sell environmental services generated on their farms while continuing their normal farming operations. Download a copy here:  Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers