Professional Development Program






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Unit 1: Planning and Business Development


What does it mean to be an entrepreneur and why is this important when talking about sustainable agriculture? You will find that most farmers engaged in sustainable agriculture are great innovators and generators of ideas – ready to try something different, take risks and create new opportunities. They are excited to experiment with alternative production practices or enter non-traditional marketing channels. What fuels this entrepreneurial spirit?
Click on each image below. The first takes you to a video story about a ranch business in north central Oregon; the two other images link to written descriptions of farm businesses in Wisconsin and Minnesota. As you listen and read, ask yourself: What about these sustainable-minded farmers tells you that they are entrepreneurs? What characteristics do they have in common?
Imperial Stock Ranch   Pastures A Plenty Farm   Imperial Stock Ranch
(John and Jeanne Carver)
(Practical Farmers of Iowa)
(Wishingstone Farm)

The Imperial Stock Ranch

The Imperial Stock Ranch, which began in 1871, faces a new and serious challenge to its very survival: how to create new markets for its products to compensate for longstanding existing markets that have declined or shifted overseas. Owners John and Jeanne Carver are having to rethink what to do with the wool from the sheep they raise on their 30,000 acre ranch in Eastern Oregon. Their solution? Direct, value-added marketing to yarn retailers and apparel designers. Listen to their story at The Imperial Stock Ranch Story

The Pastures A Plenty Farm

Jim and LeeAnn VanDerPol manage Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn. This is a grazing operation, with hogs and chickens on pasture seasonally. The hogs have young both spring and fall and the offspring are fed to market weight either on grass or straw in hoop houses depending upon the season. The VanDerPols were some of the first farmers in the Upper Midwest to use hoop houses for pasture farrowing. They have developed their own label to market meat from their grass-fed animals to retailers across the state and direct to consumers through home delivery. Learn more at Pastures A Plenty Farm

The Wishingstone Farm

Wishingstone Farm is nestled just in from the coastline in Little Compton, Rhode Island. Skip Paul and Liz Peckham grow a large variety of quality produce that is marketed to CSA members, farmers' markets, and wholesale accounts throughout the area. The majority of their produce is grown organically, however certain crops such as peaches are farmed with IPM methods, and are always labeled as such. They have a commercial kitchen at the farm where they make salsas, pickles, pestos, breads and many other products for sale. Learn more at:
Wishingstone Farm: New American Farmer profile
Wishingstone Farm Web site (make sure you scroll down and watch the video)

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