What are some resources for information on small-scale market farming?
T.K.North CarolinaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with informational resources on small-scale market farming.Many decisions about crops are made on an ad hoc basis, once production starts, since farming is weather-dependent, and unlike most farming, small-scale market farming is highly market-responsive. How certain crops perform is hard to predict so it must be understood that your initial planting plan is not a “plant it and forget about it” plan. It is a starting point that is guaranteed to need adjustment as the season progresses. The SPIN-Farming book details developing a planting plan, and the books Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to Market by Vern Grubinger and The New Organic Grower, Four Season Harvest, and Winter Harvest Manual by Eliot Coleman are excellent for helping you determine crop rotations and planting plans. In addition, I highly recommend Soil Resiliency and Health: Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping on the Organic Farm by Seth Kroeck, available for purchase from NOFA New York. Contact information for these publications is listed below.There are many workbooks that are very helpful in working through the myriad of considerations in evaluating a new farming enterprise. Listed below are some resources to help guide you. The two that I have found most helpful for business planning are:The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture has recently developed a goal based workbook and resource list. The workbook, titled “Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses” is quite helpful in taking the reader through the steps that I outlined above. Another very good training opportunity is the Growing New Farmers Program, by the New England Small Farm Institute. The workbooks and guides provide an excellent way for new farmers to access their resources and markets while researching new enterprises. Two written resources I recommend for production and marketing information are as follows:A great periodical for market gardeners is “Growing for Market.” It provides excellent practical production information for small-scale farmers, often times written by farmers. “Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market,” by Vern Grubinger is an excellent book for start-up information. It has extensive production and marketing information. Contact information for these resources is detailed below.Resources on Small-Scale Market Farming:Growing New Farmers Program, New England Small Farm InstituteP.O. Box 937, 275 Jackson St., Belchertown, MA 01007. 413-323-4531SPIN Farming (Small Plot Intensive) The Small Farm Unit at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina State University.Growing for Market Magazine You can find a list of resources and suppliers for market gardeners at The Growing for Market Web site at:http://www.growingformarket.com/categories/20080114Grubinger, Vern. 1999. Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-Up to MarketPublication number: NRAES-104. Available from: NRAES Cooperative Extension, Phone: (607) 255-7654Eliot Coleman, Four Season Farm, 609 Weir Cove Road, Harborside, ME 04642Books to consider include The New Organic Grower, Four Season Harvest, and Winter Harvest Manual.Jeavons, John. 2006. How To Grow More Vegetables *(and fruit, nuts, berries, grains and other crops) than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine, 7th edition. Ecology Action, 5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, CA 95490, (707) 459-0150.Kroeck, Seth. 2004. Soil Resiliency and Health: Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping on the Organic Farm. Northeast Organic Farming Association. $9.50 from NOFA Grace Gershuny. 2004. Compost, Vermicompost & Compost Tea, Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm. Northeast Organic Farming Association.