Marketing fresh produce effectively is key to business sustainability.

Stephen Greer, Santa Rosa County County Extension Director

Thinking about starting a small farm enterprise or diversifying your existing operation? Starting a new venture of this kind is very exciting, but it can also be very challenging. The challenges are much greater if adequate research, planning, and preparation don’t come before the venture launches. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help you navigate the complex decision-making process that should proceed the new enterprise.

As you begin the process, take time to carefully think through the situation. While the following list of questions is by no means exhaustive, the listed topics may be helpful as you assess your situation and potential goals.

    • Will this enterprise be one part of your operation or a stand-alone venture?
    • Will this enterprise be full-time or part time?
    • Do you already own or lease adequate land for the enterprise? If additional land is required, how will it be acquired? (This is particularly pertinent if you are adding a new venture to an existing enterprise.)
    • How will taking on this new enterprise effect the rest of your family?
    • If family members or business partners are directly involved, what will the management structure of the new venture look like?
    • Is there adequate market demand for the product(s) or service your new venture will supply?

Beyond answering these and other similar “big picture” questions, it is important to develop a basic business plan/model, a detailed farm financing plan, a marketing plan/strategy, and a detailed projected budget for the new venture. These early steps will be critical to the success of your operation; make sure the baseline information you are using comes from a credible source.

In addition to the somewhat technical planning described above, it is always good to get to know people in the community where you plan to begin. Talk with other local small farmers to better understand the dynamics of the local agricultural community and economy.

Above all, remember to select a venture that you are passionate about. While it can be quite rewarding, running a successful agricultural business is challenging and will undoubtedly require a great deal of passion and a love for what you are doing.

As you begin your new venture, remember there are UF/IFAS Extension agents in all 67 counties across the state. They are ready to assist you via their experience, contacts, and access to information.

Helpful Resource Links from the UF Small Farms Website:

Production Options
Alternative Enterprises
Planning and Management
Enterprise Budgets
Direct Marketing and Value Added
Farm Financing