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Farm Beginnings

Bring Your Farm Dreams to Life

Farm Beginnings® is a farmer-led, community based, business course for sustainable agriculture.

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Farm Beginnings is more than a business course.

  • Classes are led by local farmers who understand that farming is not just a business, it’s a way of life.

  • We’ll help you craft a farm plan designed to achieve the quality of life that you and your family want.

  • You’ll be paired with a farmer mentor who understands the unique rewards and challenges of sustainable farming because they live them daily.

  • We’ll connect you with educational and financial resources in your community to help keep you growing.

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When: Starting January 2023

Where: Classes will be held online via Zoom

How: Take the interest survey below to receive information about program start dates & registration

Tuition is $500 per farm.

A family or business partners may attend together from the same farm. Tuition is per farm and each team member pays the registration fee.

Scholarships and payment plans are available. No one will be turned away for financial reasons.

 
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Who is Farm Beginnings For?

Farm Beginnings is for anyone who wants to start or grow a sustainable food or agricultural business. Although it’s called Farm Beginnings, the course is ideal for farmers in their first 1-5 years of farming. It’s a great opportunity to create a new farm plan or revise an existing plan. Many students say they get more out of the course after they’ve had a few years of farming experience. 

Farmers, ranchers, and food business owners of all sizes will benefit from the course. However, most of our presenters and examples will come from small-scale farms and ranches. The marketing portion of the course is primarily about direct marketing local food and ag products, such as through farmers markets and CSAs. We will not discuss commodities marketing.

Farm Beginnings is a certified borrower training program for the USDA Farm Service Agency. If you are applying for a USDA FSA loan, and have been told you need to take a financial management course, Farm Beginnings is a great choice. Farm Beginnings graduates also get one year interest-free on FARRMS microloans.

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Farm Beginnings class 2019

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Farm Beginnings class 2018

 
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What Can I Expect In This Course?

We model sustainability by balancing environment, society, and economics. When we say “sustainable agriculture” we mean farms that sustain and regenerate healthy soil, air, and water, build the well-being of communities, and earn profit over the long term.

In the course, we’ll discuss your vision and values, financial and business planning, sustainable farming practices, marketing to connect with your customers, farm food safety, and much more.  Farm Beginnings not only provides education but equips you with the tools to launch and sustain a farm enterprise for years to come.

  • Classes are held online via Zoom on a weekday evening (dates & times TBA).

  • Classes include guest speakers who are local farmers and ranchers and lots of time for questions and discussion. 

  • You will use the FARRMS Learning Portal to see your schedule and homework, submit assignments, and access our digital learning library. 

  • Each lesson will help you create a section of your Whole Farm Plan. This will be your road map for implementing your business and is helpful when applying for loans and grants. 

  • We will mail your textbook to you.  (Whole Farm Management from Start-Up to Sustainability, edited by Garry Stephenson, Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems, Oregon State University). 

  • You’ll be paired with an experienced Farmer Mentor who will share their own real life farming experience. During scheduled Zoom Mentor sessions, you and your mentor will discuss the topics you’ve learned in class and you will get feedback on your Whole Farm Plan. 

  • Farm Beginnings students will also get significantly reduced registration for a local sustainable farming conference. 

 
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Topics Covered in the Course

  • What is Sustainable Agriculture?

    • Sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line

    • Local Food Systems and Food Sovereignty

    • Ag History 

    • Racial Inequity in Agriculture

    • Soil health 

    • Managing natural resources for healthy farm ecosystems

  • Mission, Vision, and Values

    • Finding your Why

    • Identifying your values 

    • Creating your Holistic Goal

  • Business and Financial Planning

    • Budgeting basics

    • Record keeping

    • Holistic Financial Planning

    • Legal Business Structures

    • Risk Management and Insurance

  • Building your Support Network

    • Defining Roles in your Team

    • Identifying your Resource Base

    • Finding Mentors and Peer Support

    • Local advisors: USDA FSA, USDA NRCS, local economic development centers

    • Financing your Farm Business

  • Marketing  

    • Telling Your Story

    • Who is Your Customer? Identifying market channels

    • Online marketing

    • Scaling up

  • Farm Food Safety

  • Organic Certification

 
 
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Registration, Tuition, and Scholarships

There will be a registration form that allows you to tell us about your interests and farming goals so that we can tailor the course content to your needs and find a mentor who is well-matched. If you have multiple members on your farm team, each team member should complete the registration form.

 

Tuition is $500 per farm team. Please be sure to indicate if you'd like to apply for a scholarship or payment plan.

Registration is free before a determined date and will be $25 per team member after that date.

Once the application is completed, our Program Manager will contact you to set up an enrollment interview. We will provide the scholarship application and payment information upon receipt of your registration form. 

 

Please contact us at 701-877-1794 or info@farrms.org for additional information.

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Meet Some Farm Beginnings Alumni

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Jen Skoog

Family Roots Farm

Christine, ND

Jen believes good food starts with how it's grown. She markets meat, eggs, and produce at Red River Market and through Red River Harvest Coop. 

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Lori Martin

Roving Donkey Farm

Bismarck, ND

Lori operates a family vegetable farm and CSA. She markets to restaurants and schools in Bismarck. 

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Adam & Apryl Mawby

gardendwellers FARM and RANCH

Dunseith, ND

Adam and Apryl use regenerative practices to raise and market pastured lamb and chicken. They also market fresh and dried herbs. 

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Ross and Amber Lockhart

Heart and Soil Farm

Grandin, ND

Ross and Amber grow a diversified mix of fruits and vegetables in the heart of the Red River Valley using sustainable, organic practices

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Glen Philbrick

Hiddendale Farm

Turtle Lake, ND

Glen markets organic vegetable and flower seed and raises dairy cows. 

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Simeon Bakunda

Fargo, ND

Simeon grows African greens (amaranth), sweet potatoes, and his own eggplant, at the New Roots Incubator farm in Moorhead, MN. 

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Derek and Claire Lowstuter

Folly Hill Farm and Black Bison Organics

Bismarck, ND

Derek and Claire raise ducks and market duck eggs. They also market organic, plant-based fertilizer.

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Stephanie Blumhagen

Meadowlark Granary

Bottineau, ND

Stephanie mills whole wheat flour and markets whole grain bread and baking mixes. 

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Kathleen Johnson

Bizon Ridge Berries

Fargo, ND

Kathleen is part of the leadership team at Growing Together Community gardens and is passionate about growing berries and farm education.