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Course Calendar

2017 Course Calendar*

October 21: Introductions and the basics of business planning 

  • Clarifying values: what has brought you to Central Illinois Farm Beginnings?
  • Setting goals: what do you hope to accomplish?  
  • Introduction to the structure and rationale of a business plan
  • On-farm lesson: Closing the garden and planting cover crops

November 4: Building your business plan 

  • SWOT analysis
  • Resource assessment
  • Real-life examples  
  • On-farm lesson: Fence-building for livestock and pest/predator management       

November 18: Farming for profit and farm management

  • Enterprise budgets 
  • Record-keeping
  • Farm scale, capitalization, labor, taxes    ​
  • On-farm lesson: Breeding season

December 2: Marketing your farm products 

  • Introduction to marketing and the four "P's"
  • Marketing to chefs, restaurants, institutions
  • Using social media marketing
  • Farmer's markets, co-ops, food hubs and beyond
  • On-farm lesson: serving on-farm breakfasts and dinners

December 16: Whole farm planning

  • Crop and livestock rotations
  • Soil types and testing
  • Landscape planning
  • Land access
  • On-farm lesson: soil profile analysis

January 13: Meet your mentor

  • Discover mentor possibilities
  • Farm proposal review
  • On-farm lesson: composting

January 27: Legal issues for farm businesses and the policy landscape

  • business structure
  • insurance and risk management
  • first round of final presentations
  • On-farm lesson: seed starting  

February 10: Financing options 

  • Financing your farm
  • Loans, grants, and other options
  • On-farm lesson: preserving harvest

February 24: Final presentations and business plan review  

  • On-farm lesson: fruit tree pruning

March 4 and 11 reserved as make-up sessions in the event of weather-related cancellation.


*NOTE: while dates of classes are confirmed, the timing of individual lessons and topics within those dates is still subject to change.