Guides and Manuals

Plain Language Guide to Finding, Assessing, and Securing Farmland in MA

In this Guide to Finding, Assessing, and Securing Farmland in Massachusetts, written in Plain Language, you will learn about:

•Determining the right kind of farmland for you
•Deciding what type of land tenure situation is right for you
•Starting the networking process
•Conducting farmland site visits
•Understanding your land by using the Web Soil Survey and other online information tools
•Negotiating with landowners and signing an agreement to use the land
•Beginning to farm your land!

Starting a Farm From Scratch - Decision Tool


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To a beginning farmer, the project of establishing a working farm at a new site can feel overwhelming. Depending on what resources already exist at the property, the task of identifying, prioritizing, and paying for needed improvements can be a difficult road to cultivate productive farmland.

This tool is designed to help a farmer who is considering establishing a farm at a new site to examine the scope of improvements the site may require, to prioritize which upgrades should be made, and to identify various organizations and funding sources that might offer advice and/or financing for farm-related improvements. Beginning with a section about selecting a farm enterprise, this resource then addresses Land Access, Utilities and Energy, Structures, and Equipment.

This tool is designed with farmers in Massachusetts specifically in mind, but many of the elements considered are applicable to farmers in other states, as many of the MA-based organizations and resources have parallels in other states as well. Each section below will include 1) Key Considerations and Questions, 2) Resources, and 3) Contacts related to that section, and some sections will also have 4) Financing information as well.

This is not an exhaustive list of key considerations and resources associated with starting or improving a farm on a new site. Hopefully the information provided will prove valuable to farmers as they undertake the important and demanding work of creating the conditions by which a property can generate value for the community and provide a sustainable income for the producer.

NIFTI Fact Sheet: Advocacy Guide


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Tips for advocating for beginning farmers in local food policy. This fact sheet is based off a webinar that New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and the Johns Hopkins Food Policy Network hosted in July 2017. The webinar explored how local food policy efforts can raise awareness of the needs of beginning farmers and create conditions favorable to help new farm businesses succeed. Advocates from three organizations described their recent initiatives and successes to support beginning farmers and provided tips on how to make the next generation of farmers and ranchers a policy priority. This fact sheet summarizes the shared tips. 

Niche Poultry Enterprises in New England


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This guide describes the most important challenges for profitable niche poultry enterprises in New England and some ways that producers have overcome those challenges. Through interviews and direct farm research, New Entry worked with several small-scale poultry growers to track best practices and build enterprise budgets for alternative poultry enterprises in New England. For purposes of this guide, the focus is primarily on two chicken enterprises: laying hens, with fresh eggs as the primary product; and broilers, with whole roasting birds as the primary product.

Ag Apprenticeship Toolkit

Developed by the Ag Apprenticeship Learning Network, this toolkit is a comprehensive guide to establishing or improving an agricultural apprenticeship on your farm or ranch. This resouces includes tools, suggestions, and external links to supplementary resources. 

Internships in Sustainable Farming: A Handbook for Farmers

A handbook developed by NOFA_NY for farmers interested in sustainable farming internships. The toolkit discusses the role of a farmer as a teacher and whether or not they are a good fit. Chapters detail designing an internship program and the selection process and provide overviews of living arrangements, how to provide a high-quality learning experience, and applicable labor regulations.

Recent Trends in Department of Labor Enforcement of Federal Wage and Hour Laws

This brief, prepated by Drummond and Wilson, reviews current trends in Wage and Hour enforcement and reviews differences in types of labor performed on a farm, and what qualifies as agricultural work.

NIFTI Framework for Shared Measurement

This multi-level survey tool is designed to assist IFPs in identifying and evaluating core non-production skills by focusing on outcomes necessary for farmers to run their own farm businesses after graduating from the IFP. NIFTI’s hope is that this specific tool can support your project in providing the best opportunities for success possible for your participants during the time you have with them, and gently guide your project towards measuring a set of core skills that have been determined to be of particular importance to successful commercial farmers. Our vision is that IFP’s can focus their training on core skills that are realistically achievable given time and resource constraints, and work to connect participants with the mentors and communities that will supplement learning on the IFP and support them as they grow.


The calculator tool, also available below, can be used by program staff to aggregate individual farmer responses in order to complete the Incubator Farm Project Report

Background Information on New Americans


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Background Information on New Americans’ is a compilation of resources about refugees and special immigrants actively participating in refugee agriculture programs at the  International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, VA. The information originates from a variety of sources including the IRC itself and the Department of Health and Human Services. It provides abbreviated information about the cultural practices and context from which resettled people hail, with an emphasis on diet, food traditions and agricultural

A Curriculum at a Glance with Core Skills


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This document lists the newly developed and enhanced teaching resource created for projects working with New American farmers, and includes an overview of the core skills taught in that lesson. Core skills refer to concepts and skills that are central to farmer training programs. The teaching resources reference here were developed collaboratively by the Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED Solutions) and 18 refugee farmer training programs across the country. 


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