Visit your local Extension office and learn how to successfully start your own sustainable small farm or ranch with help from OSU's experts.

Designed For
Those who are considering starting a farm business, those within their first five years of farming and others who may be considering major changes to their farm business.
New Dates Coming Soon!
Online and on-site
Need-based scholarships are available.
Contact Rachel for application 
or 541-386-3343.
Rachel Suits

Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management provides you with the tools and knowledge needed to develop and manage a successful farm business.

This course is thoughtfully designed and can be invaluable if you are:

  • Considering starting a farm business
  • Within your first five years of farming
  • Considering major changes to your farm business

Turn your dream of owning and operating a small farm or ranch into a reality with the help from our expert instructors.  

Convenient Online and On-Site Format

The core Growing Farms hybrid course combines the best of online and on-site learning. So, you'll receive access to the six online modules PLUS four face-to-face classes, including a full-day field trip.

There will be three evening classes (2-3 hours each), plus a full day of farm tours. Classroom times are from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. and allow you to meet with other students in an instructor-facilitated learning experience.

OSU Small Farms Program

The course was developed by OSU Small Farms Program faculty and other farm management experts, and is presented in an interactive and graphically rich format. Modules include more than four hours of video created specifically for the Growing Farms course, and feature six Oregon farmers who share their experience and insights about farming (see Featured Farmers). Although the course draws on examples from Oregon's robust farming communities, its innovative examples, models and insights are highly relevant to farmers nationwide.

Farm Partner Discount

If two people from the same farm would like to attend, the first person registers at the regular price and the second person can register at a discounted rate of $75. For more information, contact Heidi  or 971-801-0392.

Experience the Online Modules

The core of the Growing Farms course is a series of six online modules that lead you through the basics of managing a successful farm business. Click the video thumbnails below to experience each module.

Dream It. Laying the groundwork for success through planning, assessing your resources, and creating an identity for your farm.
Do It. Building the farm through smart investments in equipment and infrastructure, hiring and managing employees effectively, and monitoring energy consumption.
Sell It. Developing successful markets for your farm products with strategies that are compatible with your personal and financial goals, and that capitalize on customer needs and trends.
Manage It. Strengthening your farm business through better financial management, tracking production costs and pricing, and establishing procedures for record keeping and accounting.
Grow It. Working with nature to create and manage a farm ecosystem that is productive, able to resist pests, and enhances the quality of your land and other natural resources.
Keep It. Sustaining the farm business over the long-haul through entrepreneurship, development of good communication within the family and business team, careful attention to regulations, and risk management.

Course Organizers

Heidi Noordijk- Clackamas County Extension
Victoria Binning- Marion County Extension
Heather Stoven- Yamhill County Extension

Digital Badge

Complete this course and earn a digital badge to share your new credential and accomplishment via Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

Growing Farms is Created and Funded By

 OSU Small Farms Logo Oregon Tilth Logo USDA logo

Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management is produced by the Oregon State University (OSU) Small Farms Program. Support for this course comes from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture- Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and Oregon Tilth.

Growing Farms Creative Team and Instructors

The Growing Farms creative team includes the following people:

OSU Small Farms Program: Garry Stephenson, Melissa Fery, Melissa Matthewson, Amy Garrett, Maud Powell, Nick Andrews, Heidi Nordjik, Kristin Pool, Lauren Gwin

OSU Austin Family Business Program: Sherri Noxel, Todd Moss (currently with Syracuse University)

Mercy Corps Northwest: David Beller (currently with Grow Portland)

DEC Education Services: David Chaney

For general questions about enrollment, contact OSU Professional and Continuing Education (PACE): 541-737-4197 or fill out the Information Request Form below.

If you have questions about course content, are wondering if Growing Farms is for you, or if you want to organize an on-site Growing Farms course in your area, call: Garry Stephenson, OSU Small Farms Program, (541) 737-5833.

Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management provides farmers with the tools and knowledge needed to develop and manage a successful farm business. The course is intended for people in their first five years of farming, those considering major changes to their farm business, and anyone considering starting a farm business.  Although the course was developed in Oregon, it is relevant to farmers nationwide. 

Yes, you can take Growing Farms even if you are brand new to farming. The one requirement is that you have a serious intent about starting a farm business. The course includes in depth information on a variety of aspects of farming. To get the most out of the course, you should be ready to apply it to your farm business. 

The core of the Growing Farms course is a series of six online modules covering a variety of topics related to farming, marketing, farm management, and business operations. You can take the course in a fully online format OR you can sign-up for the combined online/on-site course that includes the six online modules PLUS four in-class sessions. With the combined online/onsite option, you sign up for a particular location (currently all in Oregon) and meet with other students in an instructor-facilitated learning experience. The schedule for the in-person sessions varies for each location. In most cases, there will be three evening classes (2-3 hours each), plus a Saturday farm tour. Although the course has an Oregon focus, and the on-site courses are only presented in Oregon, Growing Farms is relevant to farmers nationwide.

The fully online option is available to students worldwide. The combined online/onsite course is only held in Oregon at this time, so you must be in the vicinity in order to participate. If you live in California, Idaho or Washington and can travel to one of the on-site courses, you are welcome to join. 

The recommended sequence for taking the online modules is: 1. Dream It, 2. Do It, 3. Sell It, 4. Manage It, 5. Grow It, and 6. Keep It. You can explore the modules in any order, but following this sequence will facilitate your planning process and help guide you through some of the key decisions involved in developing a farm business.

The Growing Farms course consists of six online modules. You will see those six modules listed separately when you login to the Canvas course site.  You will get the most out of your learning experience if you complete all six modules in sequence. If you do not complete all six modules, you will not be eligible to receive your digital badge.

Growing Farms is intended as a 3-month course. This applies to both the fully online option and the combined online/on-site option. The online modules are presented in an interactive and graphically rich format, and include more than four hours of video created specifically for theGrowing Farms course. You should plan on 3-6 hours to go through each online module, 18-30 hours total for all six online modules. (These estimates are for students who read all the content, watch the videos, do the interactions and complete the worksheets.)

Students have access to the online modules for a period of five months starting from the date they complete their registration; for students who pre-enroll, five months from the date the course opens. 

You can take Growing Farms on a personal computer, notebook, tablet device, or smartphone. Your device will need a current Web browser such as Windows Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. For the course to run properly you will need a high-speed, broadband internet connection. The course will not run on dial-up, or slower speed Ethernet or satellite connections. If high-speed internet access is an issue, we recommend you consider taking the course at your public library or other locations with high-speed internet.

If you need technical support, or are having problems accessing the online modules, contact OSU Professional and Continuing Education Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST at 541-737-4197 or A help link is also available from within the course modules.If you have questions about course content and how it applies to your farm business, email and your question will be forwarded to a subject matter expert. In addition to the above, students taking the combined online/onsite course option will be able to interact with the instructors for their particular location.

The price for the online class is $150. The cost of the hybrid class is yet to be determined.

No discounts are available for the fully online option. A limited number of need-based scholarships or work-trade opportunities are available for the combined online/onsite course option only. A discount is also available for partners who manage the same farm. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact the instructor for the course location you are enrolling in.  You must contact the instructor ahead of time for a discount code to enter during the registration process.


There is no assigned textbook for the Growing Farms course. Each module includes a list of recommended resources, but these are not required to take the course. 

There are no exams or quizzes in the Growing Farms course. There is no homework that you will turn in to an instructor or submit online. A central activity in this course is the creation of a Whole Farm Plan for your farm business. Downloadable worksheets are provided in several modules that will help lead you through this process.

When your payment has been received and you have been approved, you will receive a confirmation email from OSU PACE. This email will include a link to the course and detailed information about how to log in and get started.