Grow Your Farm offers training and support for beginning farmers and others.
The recent increase in the demand for local foods and consumer’s interests in knowing where their food comes from, have made these exciting times in agriculture. This “revolution” has created new opportunities for beginning, small, and traditional farmers. Yet, with new opportunities also comes the need for farm planning to improve the chances for success. The University of Missouri Extension program, “Grow Your Farm” (GYF) is a 10 week course designed to help farmers write a farm business plan for their existing or potential operation.
GYF offers sessions on identifying values and setting goals, marketing, evaluating resources, assessing opportunities and alternatives, keeping track of finances, and understanding legal issues. A unique feature of the GYF course is that each session has a successful farmer as a speaker as well as instructional materials presented by an extension or other qualified specialist.
Over 80 farms have participated in the GYF course in the St. Louis area. Graduates from the course have started farms, both rural and urban, transitioned from part-time to full time farming, added or changed enterprises, and developed successful part-time ag businesses. Among the success stories of GYF graduates, were two participants who lost their jobs in the recent economic downturn. One started his own vegetable operation and CSA, while the other has opened a retail store in St. Louis for locally grown products.