Oregon State University

Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management

Introduction

Growing Farms

Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management provides farmers with the tools and knowledge needed to develop and manage a successful farm business. This course is intended for people 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.

The core of the Growing Farms course is a series of six online modules covering a variety of topics related to farm management (see Online Modules). 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 Meet the Farmers). Although the course has an Oregon focus, it is relevant to farmers nationwide.

Turn your dream of owning and operating a small farm or ranch into a reality.

 

2015 registration is now closed. If you would like more information on the next round of Growing Farms please fill out the interest form.

 

Growing Farms is created and funded by:

OSU Small Farms LogoOSU Small Farms Program

Oregon Tilth LogoOregon Tilth

USDA logo USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program

For more details see Growing Farms Creative Team.

Program Components

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:

Dream It. Laying the groundwork for success through planning, assessing your resources and creating an identity for your farm. Experience the Dream It module.

Do It. Building the farm through smart investments in equipment and infrastructure, hiring and managing employees effectively and monitoring energy consumption. Experience the Do It module.

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. Experience the Sell It module.

Manage It. Strengthening your farm business through better financial management, tracking production costs and pricing and establishing procedures for record keeping and accounting. Experience the Manage It module.

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. Experience the Grow It module.

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. Experience the Keep It module.

Onsite sessions

The combined online/on-site course option includes the six online modules PLUS four in-class sessions. 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. Visit the Growing Farms Registration page for more information about locations and dates.

Meet the Farmers

Modules include more than four hours of video developed specifically for the Growing Farms course. These videos feature six farmers, representing a diversity of environments and production systems in the state of Oregon, who share their experiences and insights about starting a managing a small farm business:
 
 
For more Growing Farms videos, visit the Growing Farms playlist on YouTube.
 
 

Enrollment Options

Course Option 1: Combined Online/Onsite

Includes six online modules plus four on-site workshops. Led by Oregon State University Small Farms faculty. Work through the six online modules on your own time, and also meet with other students to explore topics in greater depth. In-class sessions include facilitated group activities, special presentations and time to work on your whole farm plan. Also included will be a field trip to local farms where you will learn first-hand how other farmers are managing their production systems, and balancing economic and environmental goals. The peer networks that develop at each location provide opportunities for sharing information and advice with other farmers, and ongoing support after the course is over. The first on-site meeting will provide an orientation to the course, and help you get started with the online modules. Generally presented over eight weeks; participants will have access to all online materials for a 3-month period. 
Cost:$295

 

Course Option 2: Fully online 

In this version of the course, students work through the six online modules at their own pace. There is no instructor so it is completely self-guided and self-paced. This option provides access to online materials for a 3-month period and modules must be completed within that timeframe. Cost for the full series (all six modules) is $295. Continuous enrollment. Available Spring 2015. 

Creative Team

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.

OSU Small Farms LogoOSU Small Farms Program

Oregon Tilth LogoOregon Tilth

USDA logo USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program

 

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

 

FAQ

Select a question to view or hide the answer
What if my question is not here?

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

Who should take Growing Farms?

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. 

I have no farming experience. Can I still take the course?

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. 

What does the Growing Farms course include?

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.

Is Growing Farms available to those living outside of Oregon?

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. 

What order should I take the modules?

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.

Do I have to take all six of the online modules?

When you sign up for Growing Farms you are automatically enrolled in all six modules. You’ll see those six modules listed separately when you start the registration process, but they are all part of one course. Whichever enrollment option you choose, you’ll get the most out of your experience if you complete all six modules. 

How long is the Growing Farms course and what will the time commitment be?

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 the Growing 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.)

How long do I have access to the online modules?

For students taking the combined online/onsite course, you will have access to the online modules for a period of 3 months starting from the date of the first meeting. Students enrolling in the fully online option will have access to the modules for 3-4 months depending on their registration date. 

What are the technology requirements for taking the course?

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.

Can I contact someone if I have questions while I’m taking the course?

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 learn@oregonstate.edu. 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 learn@oregonstate.edu, and they 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. 

How much does Growing Farms cost?

The price for both course options (combined online/onsite AND the fully online series) is $295 per person. 

Are any discounts or scholarships available?

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.  Please note: No refunds will be given. You must contact the instructor ahead of time for a discount code to enter during the registration process. For more information, visit the Enrollment Options page. 

Are continuing education credits available for this course?

No.

Is there a textbook for the course?

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. 

Are there exams, quizzes, or homework for this 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.

How do I sign-up for the Growing Farms course?

To sign-up for Growing Farms, read through the description of the course here at this Web site. If you decide the course is appropriate for you, then choose which option you want to enroll in:  the combined online/onsite option OR the fully online option. Descriptions of each option are included here at this site. Links to each course option are included on the Registration page. 

Once I’m enrolled, how do I login to the course?

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 PACE course system and detailed information about how to log in and get started.

Request more information

For more information on Growing Farms, first read through the Frequently Asked Questions. For general questions about enrollment, contact 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.
Contact us with your comments or questions

Professional and Continuing Education
4943 The Valley Library
Corvallis, OR 97331-4504
541-737-4197

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