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The Farmer's Office (PDF)
Tools, Tips and Templates to Successfully Manage a Growing Farm Business
You decided to become a farmer because you love being outside, working the land and making a difference in the way we eat and farm.
And when you decided to become a farmer, you also became an entrepreneur and business person. In order to be ecologically and financially sustainable, you must understand the basics of accounting and bookkeeping, and learn how to manage a growing business.
Author Julia Shanks distills years of teaching and business consulting with farmers into this comprehensive, accessible guide. She covers all aspects of launching, running and growing a successful farm business through effective bookkeeping and business management, providing tools to make managerial decisions, apply for a loan or other financing, and offering general business and strategy advice for growing a business.
Whether you've been farming for many years or just getting started, The Farmer's Office gives you the tools needed to think like an entrepreneur and thoughtfully manage your business for success.
Julia Shanks works with food and agricultural entrepreneurs to achieve financial and operational sustainability. She has worked with a range of beginning and established farmers, providing technical assistance and business coaching that has allowed them to launch, stabilize and grow their ventures.
A frequent lecturer on sustainable food systems and accounting, she sits on the advisory board of Future Chefs and is the regional leader of Slow Money Boston. In her tiny, urban garden in Cambridge, MA, Julia harvests vegetables seven months out of the year. Together with Brett Grohsgal, she is also coauthor of The Farmers Market Cookbook.
"I keep telling people, starting your own small farm is not easy; to make it work, you need — perhaps more than anything else — to learn strong business skills. This is the key element that The Farmer's Office brings to the table; in it Julia Shanks shares solid advice about how to make your farm work financially. A definite must-read for any serious small-scale grower."
Jean-Martin Fortier, author, The Market Gardener
"Julia Shanks has distilled essential lessons that go beyond business planning to the financial know-how of operating a profitable farm. I will recommend her book to our clients."
Dorothy Suput, Executive Director, The Carrot Project
"Managing books and accounts is one of the weakest links I see with farmers today, and The Farmer's Office comes at a perfect time to help. There's so much talk about production and even marketing, but not enough on how to stay organized and manage the books. The Farmer's Office will be a great asset to farmers of all shapes and sizes."
Curtis Stone, author, The Urban Farmer
"Julia Shanks takes all the key topics to cover and lays them out in a logical order. She then uses stories and examples to bring home why it is so important. This book will become the go-to business guide for many, many, many farmers."
Jonathan W. Jaffe, VP/Farm Business Consultant, Farm Credit East
"The Farmer's Office hits the mark in addressing the business needs of farmers everywhere. Julia Shanks shares her business experience and real world financial training in a meaningful and farmer friendly format. While a farmer's footprints may be the best manure, The Farmer's Office is a key asset to the farm's bottom line."
Richard Wiswall, farmer and author, The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook
"This is the real story of starting and managing a farm, albeit the unsexy one that can lead to long term thrive-ability. Julia Shanks demystifies managing the business of farming one chapter at a time. This book is just what so many of today's new farmers need to face the challenges of agriculture and thrive."
Sara Dent, cofounder & coordinator, Young Agrarians
"I don't know anyone who got into farming because they liked business; but anyone who wants to keep farming needs basic business skills, including record keeping. [This book] will help everyone from beginners to experienced growers who need to understand the business of farming. A must-have for anyone running, or thinking of running a farm business."
Andrew Mefferd, Editor, Growing for Market magazine
"Julia Shanks has helped our farm immeasurably. We are better at growing diverse foods than at figuring out if specific crops make us money, break even, or lose money. Indeed, I am sometimes even afraid of figuring out detailed profit realities all by myself. Julia's economic analyses and insights into how farms work have been really empowering, and The Farmer's Office is simple, easily digested, and brings to life even the sometimes scary subject of how to run a successful farm business. This book is a must-have for all new farmers, and even we grizzled experienced growers will gain hugely from a cover-to-cover read."
Brett Grohsgal, Even' Star Organic Farm
"Julia has a uniquely comprehensive skill set that is especially beneficial to the Farmer Entrepreneur. Her deep understanding of farmers, business, and the business of farming make The Farmer's Office both highly functional and extremely informative."
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