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Entrepreneurial Agriculture
"Tilling the Soil of Opportunity"

An In-depth Business Planning Course for Massachusetts Agricultural Enterprises

Session Titles

Take Stock of Your Resources
Basic Planning and Research
The Legal Terrain
Manage from the Ground Up
Bring Your Product to Market
Reap the Benefits of Market Strategies
Get Your Budgets in Line
Analyze Cash Flow and Financial Statements
Cultivate Your Money Resources
Harvest Your Future - Using Your Plan

Course Structure

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and local partners sponsor regional delivery of this innovative, individually guided course for existing* agricultural businesses that want to re-examine their operation and/or make sustainable changes.

The course is meeting on Martha’s Vineyard twice per week during a 7-week window. Each of the chapters/sessions addresses a component of your business plan. The design is cumulative, with each session building on the last and completing the whole plan. Therefore, ideally you should not miss more than two sessions. The time you put in to do the job right will be your biggest and most valuable investment in refining your farm-based enterprise.

Participant Quote: "By the time the class was finished, I was surprised we had a plan of action for our fruit orchard, and a new commercial vegetable garden."

* Existing businesses have been operating for two or more years. They have current access to land and at least minimal facilities for their enterprise (owned or leased).  If you consider yourself to be a start-up or an idea-stage business, we can refer you to a more appropriate course using a similar approach.

A National NxLeveL© Curriculum for Today's Agricultural Entrepreneurs

Created in 1998 by a team of 15 business writers and ag consultants, "Tilling the Soil of Opportunity" was further revised after testing with farmers. The course uses 35 hours of classroom time, individualized technical assistance and confidential financial planning to walk you through creation of a business plan that can help guide decision making on your farm. Over 240 Massachusetts farmers have successfully taken this course. Many have also commented that the farm-to-farm networking during the class was one of the biggest ongoing benefits. Some of the course groups are still getting together on their own.

·       A Program Manager familiar with your region and the available local resources will support your nationally certified Course Instructor.
·       During the course (and/or afterward), you will receive additional individual technical assistance in topic areas most needed to complete your plan.
·       Guest speakers will be drawn from local agricultural businesses and business service providers to personalize the key principles of many sessions.
·       The business plan you will create in this course can simplify your eligibility for federal, state and local assistance programs.
·       This course qualifies as a "Borrower Training Program" for the USDA Farm Service Agency, and can enhance your efforts to secure funds from any lender.

Participant Quote: "The course motivated me to make real changes in my business. I am enjoying those changes already”

How Do I Sign Up or Find Out More?

WHEN?   We have a course, which has already begun, on the Vineyard. Each session is three hours long, from 6:00-9:00 PM. Each course group has input on scheduling specifics.

WHERE? The course is being held at the Dukes County Administration Building at the Airport on Martha’s Vineyard.  

DEADLINE? Join us by this coming Friday evening and you’ll have made it in under the wire!!

CLASS SIZE? Enrollment is limited to 12 businesses. You may bring another person from your farm at no extra charge if space permits

When your application is accepted, you will be asked to pay a course fee of $300, which includes the course text and workbook, additional handouts and individual technical assistance.  If this fee is a definite barrier for an otherwise qualified candidate, we can sometimes arrange alternative sources for a portion of the funds. We are happy to provide referrals to alumni of our programs (probably in your own region) to help you decide if this course is for you.

For additional information and an application form, contact:

Rick Chandler, ABTP Director
Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources
25 West Experiment Station
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003   
Phone: 413-577-0459

The County of Dukes County PO Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone: 508.696.3840    Fax: 508.696.3841
   Hours Vary by Department
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