Course Overview: This course is designed for students who foresee starting a farming operation in the future or who currently own/manage/work on one. The complexity of whole farm planning is covered in the course through agricultural business planning, organizational design, decision making, leadership and management (employees, systems and record keeping).
Learning Objectives: Practical skills such as hand tool use, essential farming techniques, tractor and small equipment use will be emphasized in addition to marketing, market research, selling crops and storage issues. Value-added production, CSAs, selling wholesale (grocery, restaurant), cooperative CSAs, agritourism and farmers market management will also be components of the course. Viable farm models that support the health of the land and owners will be developed. A major portion of the course includes a project that is either conducted in partnership with an existing financially stable farm, or an individual farm business plan.
Course Structure: At the beginning of every week students will be provided with a weekly list of all the work to be completed during the week of class. There will be Discussion Questions which students will post responses to in the “discussion forum” section of Blackboard. These responses are due by 11:59pm on the Sunday of that module’s week. Required Readings are listed with weekly required Homework questions. Required Readings are listed with weekly required Homework questions. The Final Research Project will be chosen from a list of options and culminate in an in-depth paper. Exceptions for research topics not on the list can be made with the instructor’s permission.
- Class Participation: 25%
- Discussion Assignments: 25%
- Homework Assignments: 25%
- Final Project: 25%
Required Text: The Organic Farmers Business Handbook: a Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops and Staff – and Making a Profit by Richard Wiswall
Technology: According to UMass Online, in order to take this course you must:
- have access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows)
- be familiar with basic computer skills
- be connected to the internet
- have an e-mail program and account
- have at least a 56 kbps modem
- have a Java capable browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer)
NOTE: If you have any problems with technology, please contact the UMass Online Tech Support office for help.
This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program. To register for upcoming classes, see UMass Online. Most classes cost $371/credit. If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.