Planning Your Small Farm for Pleasure and Profit

2003 Annual Report for LNC02-218

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $98,480.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $34,010.00
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Ronald Macher
Sustainable Alternative Farming Institute (SAFI)

Planning Your Small Farm for Pleasure and Profit


This project will create and distribute an easy to use and affordable computer program to help new farmers make sound, sustainable farm plans that will enhance the economic viability of small farms. The project will merge the interests of new and beginning farmers with basic agricultural information to provide a comprehensive look at their farm, along with suggestions for the highest and best sustainable use for that farm. Participants will have customized, sustainable farm plans to guide them in making sustainable choices, a workbook for record keeping and analysis, and a glossary of basic agriculture terms.

Plan, design, develop and test computer program with approximately 100 enterprise budgets. A core team of 14 producers, sustainable ag & small farm experts will head the teams that will develop & design the software, notebook, farm record keeping system, farm glossary & training materials. Software will produce customized labor, capital, crop and livestock enterprise budgets along with the level of management expertise required to make their enterprises successful. Train 35 Missouri Extension Educators. Fifty new/beginning farmers participate in pilot program; 15 farmers develop their own sustainable farm plans independently using the computer program; 35 farmers receive training on the computer program from Missouri Extension Educators. An additional group of 10 farmers will develop a farm plan without the computer program, to serve as a control group.

The Core Team was formed and met with the computer programmer to give input into the design of the farm planning process. Pre- and post-tests were developed and distributed for Core Team comment. A change was made to develop the program online instead of using Excel for greater efficiency, ease of updates, saving on licensing costs and for farmers who do not have access to Excel. Farmers were recruited to participate in the project. Missouri Extension Educators were recruited to participate in the project. A draft software program was developed and was then tested by the Core Team. Their suggestions for improvement were incorporated into the design and pre- and post-tests. Enterprise budgets were developed for use with the computer program. A workbook template was distributed for comment. Evaluation plan ideas were discussed.

Yet to do: Recruit a few more farmers and Extension Educators. Develop end-of-project survey. Develop training program in conjunction with computer programmer who has developed instructions. Complete enterprise budgets. Complete notebook, glossary and evaluation plan. Test program with Core Team again for final input. Disseminate computer program and workbook to Extension Educator and hold training sessions. Publicize toll free number. Distribute computer program and survey farmers and Extension Educators about ease of use of the materials, change in attitude and knowledge. Distribute post-test. Complete survey and post-test results and analysis. Revise computer program, workbook, glossary and training program based upon farmer and Extension Educator feedback. Disseminate revised program on-line throughout Missouri