Are you looking to start a farm? Do you have plans to begin selling a food product? Are you a few years into operating your farm or food business and could benefit from refining your business plan? Join a small cohort of beginning farmers to learn from topic experts and a committed farm mentor.

The Whole Farm Planning & Mentoring program is a 10-week series that leads 20 beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs through the process of planning their business. Through weekly webinars with topic experts and one-on-one meetings with mentors, participants will learn the key components of starting a business with the goal of creating a new or refined business plan.

We will begin with the important work of visioning, then walk through the legalities of forming a business, creating sound financial plans, innovative marketing strategies, long-term growth plans and funding opportunities. Participants will hear from business experts and consultants, as well as current farm and food business owners who will bring their personal experiences and real world examples to the conversation. Participants are expected to attend all webinars, complete weekly work on their business plan, and communicate with their mentor between sessions.

We are seeking beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs who are committed to creating or developing their farm or food business in any sector.

Pre-Session: Meet the Mentors | March 31 – 6-7pm

Participants and mentors meet up before the series begins to get to know each other, establish ground rules, and hear from Rural Action.

Session 1: Envision Your Business | April 7 – 6-7pm

Work through the process of envisioning your whole business using the Business Model Canvas, a simple and effective tool for putting all of your thoughts on one page.

Session 2: Write Your Mission & Goals | April 14 – 6-7pm

Learn how to synthesize your values and operations into a compelling mission statement and set measurable goals for success.

Session 3: Choose A Business Structure | April 21 – 6-7pm

Understand the differences between basic farm and food business structures and decide on the model that works best for you.

Session 4: Understand the Regulations | April 28 – 6-7pm

Hear from food and farming professionals about the regulatory requirements in your sector and learn from experienced business owners about how they have navigated these regulations.

Session 5: Make a Financial Plan | May 5 – 6-7pm

Understand financial statements and learn good record-keeping so you can make informed financing decisions, analyze your business’s performance, and develop budgets.

Session 6: Create a Brand Identity | May 12 – 6-7pm

Create your brand from the get-go so you can establish your business in the local marketplace and build your marketing strategy around it.

Session 7: Plan for Future Growth | May 19 – 6-7pm

Envision the growth of your business and create a development plan by putting concrete dates to the phases of your growth.

Session 8: Fundraise Creatively | May 26 – 6-7pm

Navigate the funding opportunities that may be available to your business and learn the ins and outs of grants, loans, and crowdfunding campaigns.

Optional Session 9: Practice Your Pitch | June 2 – 6-7pm

Gather together for a casual conversation to reflect on the series, practice pitching your business, share your business plan, and ask any lingering questions.


Cost of registration:

  • Regular price – $150
  • Discounted price – $75

Limited scholarships are available on a first come, first served basis. Please email Joe Barbaree at to request a scholarship.