Exploring the Small Farm Dream

Exploring the Small Farm Dream

How do you begin a vegetable CSA, a goat’s milk dairy, herbal tea business, pick-your-own orchard, or pastured poultry operation? If you are considering launching a small farm enterprise, but are unsure of where to start, this course is for you! For career changers looking to the next frontier, for farm apprentices considering a start-up, or for a hobbyist looking to become profitable, the Explorer class is intended to bridge the gap between ideas and action.

The course’s goal is to help aspiring farmers learn what it will require to start and manage their own profitable agricultural enterprise, and to decide if this is a path they really want or can take. Participants will discuss current opportunities in small-scale agriculture, explore objectives, assess personal skills and financial resources, conduct preliminary market research, and develop an action plan for pursuing their interests in food and farming.

What to Expect:

  • Guidance to the information you need to develop a successful farming plan
  • Interviews with farmers and visits to farms – see the dreams made into reality

  • Self-assessment, research and class discussion, which are central to the course
  • Connection with others interested in farming

It is important to note that this course will not teach you how to farm. Through facilitated independent study, aspiring farmers take the opportunity to explore their farm business ideas and clarify next steps. This course was developed in cooperation with the New England Small Farm Institute and first presented by 2016 National Outstanding Young Farmer Jess Niederer of Chickadee Creek Farm in Hopewell Township.

2023 Dates:

The 2023 ESFD Course will be conducted virtually via zoom.

  • February 16, 6-8:30PM
  • February 23, 6-8:30PM
  • February 25, 9AM-3PM (In-person farm tour)
  • March 2, 6-8:30PM
  • March 9, 6-8:30PM

The 2023 ESFD Course in partnership with NewarkSAS will be conducted virtually via zoom on the following dates:

  • March 22, 6-8PM
  • March 29, 6-8PM
  • April 5, 6-8PM
  • April 12, 6-8PM


Cost: $350 – NOFA-NJ Members | $400 – Non-Members | $500 – Household

Discounts: Current NOFA-NJ members may be eligible for a 50% scholarship. Check out our scholarship page to apply.   If two NOFA-NJ members from the same farm or family membership register together, the second person receives a 50% discount on registration! Contact NOFA-NJ for details. *Discounts cannot be combined. Refund Policy: Please review NOFA-NJ’s Cancellation Policy. *Exception: requests for refunds are only available up to two (2) weeks before a scheduled program. Questions: Please call 908-371-1111 or email nofainfo@nofanj.org.