Want to make the transition to organic? It’s a big decision, and one that takes several years to see through completion.

The Organic Farming Exchange supplies all the resources you need to get started. Our organic farming mentor program connects you with a veteran organic grower, educational training sessions are also available, and the certification process is outlined.

Starting a New Business

Before starting a new business or modifying a current one to include organic, research your intended market.

Operating a certified organic farm requires a demand for your product, one that meets the increased price of organic. And while profit is not the only market opportunity, it is crucial to identify markets willing to purchase your product.

After doing some research, write up the findings as part of a business plan that will serve to guide the development of your farming operation. This is especially critical if you intend to seek funding through loans or grants. The cost to certify requires more than the certification fees. This is true also for those considering certifying their farm with the National Organic Program (NOP).

Ask yourself these questions before building your business?

  • Do I have the skills needed or access to obtaining them through education?
  • Is there adequate demand for my product(s), warranting a fair price that covers production cost?
  • Do I have a financial buffer if the demand for my product is low, something especially common within the first year?
  • If/when the demand for my product increases, am I able to increase production to meet the new demands?

Resources

Webinar: Getting Started with USDA Organic Certification
The MSU Extension 2015 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series offers 2-hour seminars, including “Getting started with USDA organic certification.” All the materials offered for download during the ‘live’ webinar can be downloaded from the recorded webinar as well. Review the recording online at any time, and contact Vicki Morrone with questions about other downloadable content from the series.

Start2Farm.gov
Start2Farm was developed to assist a new farming community, those with less than 10 years experience. The site’s database serves as a one-stop reference for anyone looking for programs and resources to start a successful farming or ranching venture. For additional resources, visit anyone of it’s sponsors:

Beginning Farmers
An online resource for farmers, educators and policy makers, this website is dedicated to creating networks and supplementing the knowledge required to develop locally-based, sustainable farm enterprises.

Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe
A Rutgers agricultural extension, the website provides research and education hoping to promote both profitable and sustainable growing communities.

National Young Farmers’ Coalition
NYFC targets young farmers, creating a national network that promotes education and resources across all elements of sustainable farm practice.

Publications

Plan Ahead: Communication is key to successful next-gen transition – PDF
Extending the farm tradition from one generation to the next requires more than an economic and legal plan, it requires able-bodied participants who are both interested and organized.

Online Directory for Women in Agriculture Organizations – PDF
Small Farms quarterly actively supports women in agriculture. It was founded by and created for women in an attempt to share issues of women’a health, farm economics, food production and rural isolation.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) serves farmers over five different regions. Michigan belongs to the North Central region.  They have several free books available for download that provide valuable information for beginning farmers or farmers interested in transitioning to organic:
Building a Sustainable Business
Organic Transition
Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems

They also serve beginning farmers through competitive grants programs. Read about an example of a SARE funded beginning farmer cooperative project here.


For marketing inquires and market-specific information, visit the markets & marketing page.

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