Farming: Pencil to Plow is a beginning farmer program designed for aspiring small farmers and those producers interested in diversifying their farm operation. The course is held over eight (8) weeks, meeting one night each week for three hours each night. Information is presented by experts in the agriculture field who discuss key business planning topics. Speakers include University of Maryland Extension educators, local agencies and businesses that work with agriculture producers. Topics covered in this course include awareness of regulations, developing a business plan, cash flow statements, understanding customer base, marketing, and the importance of budgeting. Farming interests from participants varied greatly: beekeeping, grain, farm to school, alpacas, hay, livestock, equine, CSA, vegetables, hops, and mushroom production.
Upon completing this program, participants have developed a prepared business plan used to present to lending agencies along with a certificate of completion issued by NxLevel, a nationally recognized entrepreneurship training provider. This Extension program has been recognized by the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA) in 2014 as a national award winning Extension program. To date, there have been 52 participants. Originally developed as a Maryland Lower Eastern Shore program, Farming Pencil to Plow has reached beginning farmers from eight (8) Maryland counties and three (3) states. Of the participants that have graduated from the program, 87.5% strongly plan to use the knowledge and skills gained in this program to help develop their farming endeavor. Sponsorship has been secured each year of class to fund this Maryland beginning farmer program.
|2016 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference