This page, Agricultural Business Training Program (ABTP), is offered by

Agricultural Business Training Program (ABTP)

Offers courses, trainings, and workshops to Massachusetts farmers.

MDAR’s Agricultural Business Training Program offers two courses for Massachusetts agricultural enterprises:

1) Exploring the Small Farm Dream – 5-session course, typically offered on weekday evenings, using curriculum and workbook developed by the New England Small Farm Institute.  For those who are thinking about or in the planning stages of a starting their own farm, including those who are expanding a hobby to an income-generating scale.  This course offers guidance and resources to help make informed decisions about what’s involved with owning your own farm so you can decide whether or not to take the plunge - and how to proceed in the first stages.  Cost per enterprise - $100

The next Exploring the Small Farm Dream course is expected to be offered in the fall of 2021. Dates to be determined.

  • In order to be considered for an upcoming course, please complete an application (found at link above) and email it to Jessica.Camp@mass.gov.  

  • Or mail it to:

    • Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
      Attn: Jessica Camp
      138 Memorial Ave, Suite 42
      West Springfield, MA 01089

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  If your application is approved and you commit to attending on the scheduled dates, you will then need mail a check for $100 made out to “Commonwealth of Massachusetts” to the MDAR W. Springfield office to confirm your spot. 

For more information about the Exploring the Small Farm Dream course, contact Jessica Camp at 617-823-0871 or Jessica.Camp@mass.gov.

2) **GROWING YOUR FARM BUSINESS planning course!**

MDAR has updated its business planning course curriculum (previously “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity”) to a hands-on course to help established farmers develop a business plan and financial projections for their farm business. This course meets once per week for 8 weeks, covering topics including resource assessment, marketing, financial management, risk management, quality of life, and goal setting. The course is taught by professional business planners with years of experience working with Massachusetts farms and guest speakers on relevant topics such as succession planning and online marketing. The cost is $200 per farm, open to farmers who have been operating a farm business in Massachusetts for at least the 2 prior years. 

Farmers that complete a business plan by participating in the Growing Your Farm Business planning course and then apply and get accepted to MDAR’s APR Improvement or Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture farm viability grant programs within 2 years may be able to waive the business planning phase of these programs, enabling them to move to the contract phase earlier for a longer timeframe to implement their grant projects.   

The Growing Your Farm Business planning course has been approved as a certified U.S.D.A. Farm Services Agency (FSA) borrower training for financial management.

Applications for the Growing your Farm Business course will be accepted on a rolling basis and added to a waiting list in the order received until we are able to offer an in-person course.

Growing your Farm Business application

In order to be considered for an upcoming course, please complete an application (found at link above) and email it to Michael.Parker@mass.gov.

  • Or mail it to:

    • Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
      Attn: Michael Parker
      138 Memorial Ave, Suite 42
      West Springfield, MA 01089

For more information about the Growing Your Farm Business Planning course, contact Michael Parker at 413-276-2008.

MDAR’s Agricultural Business Training Program also offers occasional trainings and workshops to respond to identified needs of Massachusetts farmers. Recent workshops:

  • Planning for the Next Successor on your Farm - Winter 2019; Experts from MDAR and Land for Good provided tools and resources - including the state's  Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program​- to help farmers identify the next owner of the farm and take steps towards making the transition. 
  • Massachusetts Farm Succession School – Winter 2018; in partnership with Land for Good, additional professional technical assistance provided to participating Massachusetts farm families by MDAR’s Agricultural Business Training Program.
  • Applying Lean Principles to Farm Operations, Nov 2017; hosted by Outlook Farm in Westhampton, presenter Scott Morrison In partnership with Franklin County Community Development Corporation, PVGrows Investment Fund, and Communities Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.
  • Attracting Loyal Customers Through Online Marketing & Social Media, offered to TTS participants in May 2016; presenter Myrna Greenfield, Good Egg Marketing.
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