How To Start An Organic Farm

Have you been thinking about starting an organic farm? We will you through the steps for starting your organic farm – from coming up with a business plan to finally (where a real estate professional comes in) helping you buy a piece of property.

Before you find the site for your organic farm, you have to do your homework. An organic farm is a business and if you have never done it before, you have to think like a  business person and create a plan. Programs such as SCORE and the Small Business Administration can assist with the basics of starting a small business.

It’s a good idea to speak with lots of people in the early stages – finding people who are already farming and Organic farm training programs and organic farming symposiums are a great place to start.  There are also books, videos, and online groups that can help you learn and come up with a business plan. Your plan should include 1, 3, 5 and 5+ year plans. Consider if you want a CSA, a farm stand, to sell at farmers markets, to sell to distributors, or a combination of these.

Before you start looking for a piece of land or a farm property, you need to save for a down payment. This is the most important step.  Buying a farm or land will probably require, at the very least, a 20% down payment, maybe more. Then consider where to find your financing sources, personal savings, family, lenders, USDA, MAFC. Then you need to talk with these potential lenders and ask them to review your financial situation and provide you with some guidance and a prequalification letter for the amount that they think you will be able to spend. You don’t want to look for a $500,000 farm if you can only really afford $350,000!  Go over the different options with the lenders. It is never too early to get educated. Are you planning on building from scratch or do you need a place to live immediately? This will have an impact on the different loan options available. Find out how much money you will need out of pocket, and what it will cost every month to pay your loans. If you aren’t sure where to start, give us a call today.

Location is key so you will want to search long and hard with a REALTOR that specializes in farm properties: You want a site that warrants an organic farm. You need to know the market. In some markets, your product may not be saleable. Pay attention to the proximity of the marketplace to your farm. Easy transport to a farmer’s market or a distributor will play a role in the sustainability of the farm. You also want to make sure that the property is zoned for the purpose of commercial farming, and if you want to have things like a farm stand, that this will be allowed. You also want to pay attention to the soil and make sure that it will allow your crops to grow so having an idea of what you will be growing is important. You need fertile soil, good drainage, and clean water.  We as farm realtors can point you in the right direction for some of this information.