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Farmer’s Bookshelf

If you’re lucky, you may find a few of these publications in your local library. Otherwise, search the titles and you’ll find them in your local bookstores or for purchase online.

Getting Started

Business Planning and Profitability

  • Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses Published by Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, 2003. A step-by-step guide to developing a business plan, with a focus on agricultural businesses. Includes worksheets and farmer profiles/testimonials. Available online as a free PDF download, or in hard copy at Sustainable Agricultural Publications 802-656-0484 for $14.
  • The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops and Staff – and Making a Profit by Richard Wiswall, published by Chelsea Green Books. Written for organic vegetable farmers by a long-time VT farmer, this book is not specifically about writing a business plan but rather managing a successful business. But it covers all the fundamentals you need for a business plan, and includes a CD with cash flow spreadsheets, crop budgets, and more.
  • Starting an Ag Business: A Pre-Planning Guide by Steve Richards, NY FarmLink, 2004. A 63-page guide with worksheets that help aspiring or diversifying farmers thoroughly explore the feasibility of their farm business idea. Available in print copy for $15 from NY FarmNet, 800-547-3276. Also available for free download (PDF) here.

Marketing and Production

  • Growing for Marketmonthly journal for direct-market farmers, with articles written by farmers. Electronic and paper subscriptions available.
  • Selling at Farmers Markets – free download from Growing for Market magazine.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Soil Health

  • Weed the Soil, Not the Crop: A Whole-Farm Approach to Weed Management by Eric and Ann Nordell
  • Managing Cover Crops Profitably, a publication of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education branch of USDA (available for free download).


Information on Any Type of Enterprise or Marketing

  • Visit the National Center for Appropriate Technology website. This is the only resource we’re listing here that’s not a book or magazine. But we couldn’t leave it out – it is one of the best online sources of information for any of the topics listed above, as well as anything else related to farming.