Starting a Farm From Scratch - Decision Tool

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.


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