For farmers, growing quality crops is just one step in running a successful farm—making the farm or market garden economically viable requires another suite of skills, including finding land, planning what crops to grow, marketing the crops, managing income and expenses, and addressing food safety and labor issues.
At the University of California, Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship instructors have put together a new instructional resource filled with lessons to teach these skills. Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors, 2nd Edition is a companion volume to CASFS’s first training manual, Teaching Organic Farming and Gardening: Resources for Instructors.
Revised and expanded in 2015, the first teaching resource has met with widespread praise from educators across North America. Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability builds on our experience educating nearly 1,500 apprentice growers in organic production, farm and business planning, direct marketing at a roadside farm stand and to local restaurants, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) management through hands-on training in the running of our 135-member CSA program.
Published in 2015, the new edition of Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors is organized into nine units, four focusing on marketing and five covering other topics related to making a small farm economically viable. Included are lessons and resources for running a CSA project, selling at farmers’ markets, forming collaborative marketing groups and grower cooperatives, and selling to restaurants. Also covered are strategies to reach customers using social media and on-farm events, improve small farm planning, including enterprise visioning and market assessment; creating a business plan, including marketing and crop plans; understanding basic bookkeeping and tax issues; and managing time and cash flow. Food safety issues are addressed, along with labor and apprenticeship options. Land tenure arrangements such as cash-rent leases from non-profits, shared ownership models, conservation easements, and community land trusts are reviewed as additional mechanisms for addressing the complex issue of the economic viability of small-scale agriculture. This resource also reviews the trends and factors that influence small-scale agriculture’s economics, and provides an overview of produce marketing in the U.S.
The training manual is designed for a wide audience of those involved in teaching farming and sustainable agriculture, including instructors at college and universities, agriculture organizations, farm-training programs, apprenticeship programs; agricultural extension personnel; farmers with interns; and growers, teachers, and organizers at urban farms, community gardens, and food projects with direct-marketing outlets. This instructor’s resource features class and field demonstration outlines, trainee exercises, and resource materials, with a focus on CSA. The manual can be used in a classroom setting or adapted for other training formats, such as short courses, conferences, and field days.