“Exploring the Small Farm Dream”

A man and woman crouch in a farm bed.
Alumni of the course, Holly and
James Hammond of Whisper Hill Farm in Culpeper County.
Photo by Rose Jenkins.

This course is for people who are considering launching a small farm enterprise, but are not sure where to start. Designed to guide students through an initial exploratory decision-making process, “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” courses bridge the gap between ideas and action.

What to Expect:

  • Creative exercises, homework, research and class discussions that will help you assess your skills and resources
  • Interviews with local farm business owners that will assist you in deciding how to carry your dream forward
  • The opportunity to connect with others interested in starting new agricultural enterprises in our region

Course Sessions:

Class 1: Expressing Farm Vision and Evaluating Goals

This first class will focus on assessing yourself and mapping out your farm vision. We will review the objectives of the course, meet and engage with other classmates and work through in-class exercises and discussions. A week before the first class, students will be given a section of the course workbook to read and will be asked to fill out a couple of the worksheet to bring with them the first day.

Class 2: Researching the Landscape and Interviewing Current Farm Innovators

During the second class, we will cover local farming trends, helpful resources, important business regulations, and continue with in-class exercises and discussion. The class will culminate with a panel of local farmers and food industry experts to tell their experiences and offer advice. Homework will include conducting a research interview with a local farmer.

Class 3: Assessing Resources and Risk

The third class delves into the resources that you currently have, what you need and discuss ways that you can access your business needs. Guest speakers will highlight ways to secure land for a farming operation. A local attorney will discuss leasing arrangements and Rex Linville, PEC’s land conservation officer, will review how easements can help farmers get on the land.

Class 4: Decision-Making and Next Steps

This class will review the work covered over the last three weeks and identify the next steps in developing your farm business. There will be a focus on finances with guest speakers highlighting loan, grant and other resources and opportunities.

Upcoming Courses:

Charlottesville Class — Fall 2018

Dates:   Tuesdays – October 23 & 30 and November 6 & 13
Time:     6:00 – 9:00pm
Where:  CitySpace, 100 5th Street Northeast, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Cost:     $100 for one person or $150 for a couple

More information and registration >>

If you are interested in learning more about the course, please contact our Food and Farms Program Manager, Jess Palmer, at jpalmer@pecva.org or 540-347-2334.