Thanks to funding from the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant program, we’ve compiled resources that will help make your farming operation more ecologically and financially sustainable. We welcome your feedback; contact us at

Available Funding

Moore’s Creek Watershed Cost-Share
Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District
Funds are available to help farmers cover the costs of stream fencing, alternative watering systems, grazing systems, and vegetation establishment along stream banks. Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Beehive Grant Program
Any individual who either purchases a new hive or purchases materials or supplies to construct a new hive may apply for a grant, for up to $200 per new hive, not to exceed $2,400 per individual per year.

Organic Certification Cost-Share
Receive reimbursement of up to 75% of the cost of organic certification, up to a total of $750 per applicant. The deadline to apply is usually the beginning of November.

SARE Producer Grants
Southern SARE
The purpose of this grant program is for farmers/ranchers to conduct projects to solve challenges and problems they face and develop information on what works and doesn’t work so that other farmers and ranchers facing those same problems can benefit from the results of the funded project. Local Food Hub partner farm Sharondale Farm received this grant in 2008 for a project studying the optimal management of manure composts to yield high-value mushroom crops. Read their final project report here.

USDA Grants, Loans & Support
USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
A list of USDA programs geared towards building local and regional food systems.

Value-Added Producer Grants
USDA Rural Development
This program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. In 2011, Local Food Hub partner farm Agriberry received a $300,000 grant. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition offers a Farmer’s Guide to Applying for Value-added Producer Grant Funding.

Environmental Quality Incentive Program Initiatives
USDA National Resources Conservation Service 
There are many funding opportunities available, including an Organic Initiative, which provides training and technical assistance to organic and transitioning to organic production producers, and a Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, which can help farmers cover the costs of building a high tunnel on their farm. Local Food Hub’s former educational farm, Maple Hill, successfully applied for and received this grant twice. A helpful guide for applying to the Organic Initiative can be found here.

Energy Efficiency/Alternative Energy for Small Farms

Clean Energy Farming: Cutting Costs, Improving Efficiencies, Harnessing Renewables

A Farmer’s Guide to Energy Self-Reliance
Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment
A useful guide that breaks down energy investments by their cost to implement.

Ballasting Tractors for Fuel Efficiency
Iowa State University Extension

Coping with High Energy Prices on the Farm
Penn State Cooperative Extension
Includes strategies such as: Run Tractors and Other Diesel Engines at Peak Performance and Operate Ventilation Systems for Maximum Efficiency

Greenhouse Energy Conservation Strategies
Michigan State University Extension

Reduce Energy Costs in Agriculture
Mississippi State University Extension Service


Incentives and Subsidies 

Energy Incentive Programs in Virginia
U.S. Department of Energy
A list of available financial incentives as well as applicable rules, polices, and regulations.

Subsidized Renewable Energy Site Assessments
North Carolina Solar Center
Information on reduced-cost renewable energy assessments for rural small businesses and agricultural producers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. $450-500, depending on travel distance required.

Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program
USDA Rural Energy for America Program


Alternative Energy 

Solar Energy Use in U.S. Agriculture

Virginia Center for Wind Energy
James Madison University

Is Wind Electricity Right for You?
Home Power, June/July 2011

Small Wind Guide for Virginia
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Small Wind Electric Systems
Intro to (Micro)Hydropower: A three-part article that includes system overview, measuring head and flow, power, efficiency, transmission and equipment selection. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Farm Financials and Taxes

Farm Business Management Update
Virginia Cooperative Extension
A newsletter released six times a year; includes timely information on farm management, marketing, tax management, finance, credit, labor, agricultural law, agri-business, estate planning, and more.



Planning for Profit In Sustainable Farming

Evaluating a Farming Enterprise

Primer for Selecting New Enterprises for your Farm
University of Kentucky

Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses
Also available in Spanish.

Growing Farm Profits Online Course
Southern SAWG


Business Planning
Farming is about more than planting and harvesting — effective planning is a vital part of any farm business. These materials, distributed at a Financial Planning workshop hosted by Local Food Hub, Farm Credit, and the Wallace Center, should help you begin the process.

Developing Business & Risk Management Plans Presentation
One-page Business Plan
One-page Budget Plan
One-page Risk Management Plan


Enterprise Budgets
Every operation is different, with unique expenses and cost-saving opportunities. Determining the true cost of production for each crop on your farm will help you set fair prices and determine which crops to grow again next season. Use the enterprise budgets below as a starting point for determining your own costs of production.

Crop Budgets
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Organic Enterprise Budgets
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Vegetable Crop Budgets and Irrigation Cost Calculators
University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Organic Vegetable Crop Budgets
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station

Alternative Enterprise Budgets
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Fruit and Vegetable Production Guides
Penn State Extension Ag Alternatives 

Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Production Budgets
Iowa State University; University Extension

Enterprise Budgets – 100 ft Row
University of Florida – Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises

Flower Crops – Greenhouse Costs of Production Budgets
Rutgers Cooperative Extension


Financial Recordkeeping

Establishing and Using a Farm Financial Record-keeping System
University of Tennessee Cooperative Extension

Record Keeping in Farm Management
South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension


Examples of Financial Recordkeeping

Veggie Compass Whole Farm Profit Managements
Southern SAWG

This 2013 version has a number of valuable features, like providing the cost of production and break-even point for each crop, and calculating your profit on each unit of crop sold and the profit on total units of crop sold. There is even a user manual to get you started.

Quicken for Farm and Ranch Financial Records
Oklahoma State University

Louisiana Farm Record Book
Louisiana State University AgCenter

High Tunnel Spreadsheet
Excel spreadsheet that keeps track of high tunnel expenses and revenue.

Farm Record Book
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Download as a PDF or order online, $12.


Online Production Recordkeeping Systems

Cog Pro
Designed for organic growers, but can be used by any operation. Includes GAP recordkeeping, and will soon include labor tracking. Cost for crop records is $79 a year or $150 for 2 years.

Three month free trial, then yearly pricing (starting at $99).


Rural Tax Education
Utah State University Cooperative Extension/USDA Risk Management Agency
A great source for agriculturally-related income tax information.

Social Security: If You are Self-Employed
Social Security Administration

Tax Guide for Owners and Operators of Small and Medium Size Farms
Land Grant University Tax Education Foundation, Inc.

Farmer’s Tax Guide
Annual tax guide.

Income Tax Management for Farmers
Purdue Extension
Annual tax guide.


Farm Labor

Federal Laws and Resources

Farmers’ Guide to Farm Employees: Federal and Minnesota Labor and Employment Law for Small-Scale Family Farmers
Farmers’ Legal Action Group
Information on federal laws will apply here in Virginia, but be aware that Minnesota’s state laws may be different than Virginia’s. Released August 2012.

Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9
US Citizenship and Immigration Services

Employment Law Guide: Laws, Regulations, and Technical Assistance Services
United States Department of Labor

FirstStep Employment Law Advisor
United States Department of Labor

Compliance Assistance
United States Department of Labor


State Laws and Resources

Virginia Employment Commission: Employer Portal
Contact the Virginia Employment Commission by email at or call (804) 371-8050.


Labor Management

Agricultural Labor Management
University of Vermont

Positive Practices In Farm Labor Management

Beyond Basic Compensation
Using bonuses, profit sharing and employee ownership to motivate and retain workers on your farm.

Food Safety


On-farm Food Safety Recommendations
Local Food Hub
A one-page guide developed by Local Food Hub.

Guide to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)Food Handling Guide, and Cleaning and Sanitizing Guide
Iowa State 
Three concise guides.

Good Agricultural Practices
Fresh Produce Safety Portal, North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Farmer’s Guide to On-Farm Food Safety Certification
USDA/Wallace Center

Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Audit Resources
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

Food Safety On The Farm: Policy Brief and Recommendations
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Food Safety and Post-Harvest Handling
Atina Diffley



Kansas Food*A*Syst: A Food Safety Risk Management Guide for the Producer
Kansas State University

A Guide for Evaluating Food Safety Practices at Local Produce Farms Checklist
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Mushroom Farm Food Safety and Security Self-Assessment
Penn State


Commodity Specific Information

Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines (developed by industry and presented by the FDA) for:

Guide to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)

The Lettuce and Leafy Greens Supply Chain

The Fresh Tomato Supply Chain

The Melon Supply Chain

The Production, Harvest, Post-Harvest, and Valued-Added Unit Operations of Green Onions

Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices
American Mushroom Institute


Creating a Food Safety Plan for your Farm

On-Farm Food Safety Project
On Farm Food Safety
A free online tool that allows you to create a customized food safety plan for your farm. You need to create an account.

FSP4U – Food Safety Plan For You
University of Minnesota

How do I write a food safety plan?
Penn State
A template, checklists, forms, and background information to help you interpret GAP standards.

Farm and Packinghouse Record Keeping Sheets


Water Testing

Water Quality And Testing
Local Food Hub

Irrigation Water Safety Guidelines
Local Food Hub

Wash Water Safety Guidelines
Local Food Hub

Certified Water Labs in Virginia
Compiled by Local Food Hub

Water Quality Criteria For Agricultural Water Sources and Microbial Testing Guidelines
Vermont Agriculture

Water Sample Collection Instructions
Provided by VDACS lab

Water Sample Submission Form


Sanitizing Systems and Solutions

Water Sanitizing Solutions
Local Food Hub

Mazzei Injector
Berry Hill Irrigation 
A low-cost and reliable way to inject a sanitizer into your irrigation or wash water lines.

Mixing Charts for Gardening with Hydrogen Peroxide
Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Postharvest Chlorination: Basic Properties and Key Points for Effective Disinfection
University of California, Davis, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Shock Chlorination: Disinfecting Private Household Water Supply Systems
Virginia Household Water Quality Program/Virginia Cooperative Extension

Ultraviolet Fix for Water
American Ground Water Trust


Manufacturer Information

Pro San
Sanitizing concentrate

Sanidate 5.0 Liquid Sanitizer
Sanitizing concentrate

Tsunami 100
Sanitizing concentrate

Chlorine sanitizing system

Nutrient Management for Small Farms

Practical Nutrient Management for Organic Vegetable Crops
Virginia Association for Biological Farming

Nutrient Management for Small Farms
Virginia Cooperative Extension

Nutrient Budget Basics for Organic Farming Systems
University of Illinois

Vegetable Nutrient Management
Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station

Small Farm Nutrient Management Primer
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension

Nutrient Management on Organic Vegetable Farms
University of Vermont Extension

Nutrient Management for Vegetable, Fruit & Nut Crops
University of California



Cover Crops Decision Tool
An online tool to help you quickly narrow the choices of cover crop for your situation.

Organic Fertilizer and Cover Crop Calculator
Oregon State University
Excel-based tool helps you develop well balances and cost effective nutrient management program for your farm by comparing the nutrient value and cost of cover crops, organic and synthetic fertilizers and compost. One of many resources on the Oregon State University’s Nutrient Management resource page.

Pest Management

Whole Farm Strategies

Manage Insects on Your Farm

BioIntensive Integrated Pest Management

Whole Farm Approach To Managing Pests

Farmscaping Techniques For Managing Insect Pests
Virginia Tech


Field Guides and Scouting

Virginia Ag Pest Advisory
Sign up to receive periodic emails about the agricultural pests being reported across Virginia.

(Field Guide) Organic Integrated Pest Management

Field Guide to Stink Bugs
Virginia Cooperative Extension

Pocket Guide to Recognizing Beneficial Insects in the Yard
Louisville Water Company

Mid-Atlantic Guide to Insect Pests and Beneficials of Corn, Soybean, and Small Grains
Virginia Cooperative Extension

An IPM Scouting Guide for Common Pests of Solanaceous Crops In Kentucky
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension

Pest Insect Scouting Tips
VT Department of Entomology’s Insect Identification Lab


Scouting Forms

From Rutgers Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office.




Heading Cole Crops
Calculating degree days allows you to anticipate when certain pests will appear in your fields and employ preventative strategies at the most effective time.

Degree Day Calculation
University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension

Degree Days for Common Fruit & Vegetable Insect Pests
University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension


Pesticide Use

2012 Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations
Virginia Cooperative Extension

Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs offers information on:

Private certified applicators

Uncertified applicators

Who needs certification?


Responsibilities of all pesticide applicators in VA

Season Extension

Introduction and Basic Principles
North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners

Season Extenders
Virginia Cooperative Extension

Penn State Extension
See the Crop InformationTechnologies, and Production Details sections at left.


Specific Techniques


Plastic Mulches
Penn State Plasticulture Technologies
This can help you extend the season by warming the soil.

Biodegradable mulches
Penn State Extension
This can perform as well as plastic at warming the soil and suppressing weeds. In 2007, Waterpenny Farm in Sperryville, VA, received a SARE grant to compare biodegradable and plastic mulches in squash and tomato production. Read their conclusions here. Mark Schonbeck from the Virginia Association for Biological Farming received a SARE grant in 1993 to evaluate recycled paper mulch as an alternative to black plastic mulch in vegetable horticulture. Read the final report here.

Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners


Row Covers and Low Tunnels 

Season Extenders
Virginia Cooperative Extension, publication 426-381
Row covers generally provide 4 to 5 degrees of frost protection.

Low tunnels for vegetable production
SARE, Lewis W. Jett
Includes recommended varieties for cold season vegetables.

Taming the floating row cover: Ideas for effectively managing an ungainly tool
Rodale Institute


Hotbeds and Cold Frames

Building and Using Hotbeds and Cold Frames
University of Missouri Extension

Four Ways to Use a Cold Frame
Fine Gardening
Article in Fine Gardening magazine, written by our very own Adrianna Vargo, in her pre-Local Food Hub days.

Give Your Cold Frame A Warm Bed
Vegetable Gardener, written by George Bria


High Tunnels

Cornell High Tunnels

High Tunnels: Using Low -Cost Technology to Increase Yields, Improve Quality and Extend the Season
Northeastern SARE

High Tunnel Temperature Management
Lewis W. Jett

Rainwater Catchment from a High Tunnel for Irrigation Use
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

In High Tunnels, Diseases Are What You Make Them
Cornell’s Vegetable MD Online


Design and Construction

Design and Construction of High Tunnels in West Virginia
West Virginia University Extension Service

Site Selection
Section from the University of Minnesota Extension’s High Tunnel Production Manual for Commercial Growers

Hoop House How-To
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture


Marketing and Economics

Production and Economics of High Tunnel Vegetables and Strawberries
West Virginia University Extension Service

Planning for Profit: How to Analyze High Tunnel Finances
Cornell High Tunnels

Sample budgets and spreadsheets
Cornell High Tunnels

High Tunnel Marketing & Economics
Section from the University of Minnesota Extension’s High Tunnel Production Manual for Commercial Growers

NRCS High Tunnel Initiative
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Partial reimbursement for the cost of constructing a high tunnel. Local Food Hub has received this assistance twice at our former educational farm and many of our partner farms have as well. Get in touch with us if you’d like help navigating the process.


Growing Specific Crops Within High Tunnels

High Tunnel Garlic Variety Study
Penn State Extension

Increasing Fresh Virginia-Grown Edamame Supply Through Season Extension Techniques
A project at Virginia State University, funded by SARE


High Tunnel Tomatoes
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension

High Tunnel Tomato Production
University of Missouri Cooperative Extension

High Tunnel Trellising
University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension

Tomato Budget for 1000 square foot high tunnel

High Tunnel Tomato Variety Trial
Penn State Extension

Cucumbers and Melons

High Tunnel Melon and Watermelon Production
University of Missouri Extension

Parthenocarpic Cucumbers are a Successful Double Crop for High Tunnels
West Virginia University Commercial Horticulture Extension


High Tunnel Pepper Production
Utah State University Cooperative Extension

High Tunnel Pepper Production
Iowa State University, Armstrong Farm and Horticulture Research Station


Growing Greens in High Tunnels
Penn State University, Dept of Horticulture

Growing Chinese Cabbage in West Virginia
West Virginia University Commercial Horticulture Extension


High Tunnel Raspberries and Blackberries

Growing Strawberries in a High Tunnel in Missouri
Lewis W. Jett

High Tunnel Bramble Production
Penn State University

Growing Raspberries Fall to Spring with High Tunnels and Greenhouses

Root Vegetables

Specialty Potato Production Within a High Tunnel
West Virginia University Commercial Horticulture Extension

Beet and Carrot Production Within A High Tunnel
West Virginia University Commercial Horticulture Extension

Flowers, Bedding Plants, Hanging Baskets

Cornell High Tunnels
A wealth of resources; including information on cultural practices and specific varieties tested within Cornell high tunnels.

High Tunnel Cut Flower Production for Local Market Sales
Penn State Extension



Walking To Spring: Using High Tunnels to Produce 52 Weeks a Year by Paul and Alison Wiedeger of Au Naturel Farm; order online.

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses by Eliot Coleman; order online.

The Hoophouse Handbook: Growing Produce and Flowers in Hoophouses and High Tunnels by Growing for Market; order online.

Transition to Organic Production

Making the Switch

Is Organic Crop Production for You?
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service


North Carolina Organic Vegetable Production Cost Study
North Carolina State University, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, 2003

Comparison of production costs and resource use for organic and conventional production systems

Agricultural Issues Center, UC Davis
Study results released in 2012 comparing production costs  for a variety of crops, including field crops (alfalfa, processing tomato, and field corn), vegetables (broccoli and lettuce), fruit (strawberries, and raisin grapes), and tree nuts (almonds and walnuts).

Organic Production Practices: Northeastern United States
Rutgers: New Jersey Experimental Agriculture Station
Organic crop budgets for vegetables

Getting Oriented

Transition to Organic Production
This 32-page bulletin lays out many promising conversion strategies, covering typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas and federal standards for certified organic crop production, and with special sections on livestock production and profiles of four organic producers.

Transitioning to Organic Vegetable Production

Organic Transition Course
Rodale Institute
A free, 15-hour online program designed to help you understand the National Organic Standards and use them as your framework for making the transition to organic production.

Small Farm Exemption

Small Scale Organics
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture
A 39-page guide for exempt organic farms (<$5,000 annual organic sales), including details for assessing compliance with the National Organic Standards, templates for abbreviated Organic System Plans, and simplified record forms.


A Broader Context

A Brief Overview of the History and Philosophy of Organic Agriculture
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture


Certification Process

Organic Certification In Virginia

National Organic Program: Organic Certification Process
Growing Small Farms, Chatham County Center, North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Organic Certification Process
This 8-page guide is designed to help organic producers and handlers understand, prepare for, and get the most from the process of organic certification to USDA National Organic Standards. It discusses the purposes and benefits of the inspection for organic certification, provides a general description of the organic certification process, and outlines the role of the organic inspector.

Organic System Plans: Market Farms and Greenhouses
This 68-page guide was developed to help you complete your application by explaining just what information certifiers want and why that information is required. It also provides an example of what a good application and system plan might look like.

Organic Certification Cost Share
Applicants can be reimbursed 75% of the cost of their certification, up to $750.


Certifiers Servicing Virginia

How to Pick a Certifier
Growing Small Farms, Chatham County Center, North Carolina Cooperative Extension

How to Choose an Organic Certification Agency & the Organic Certification Process



Organic Suppliers

Countryside Organics

Seven Springs Farm



High Mowing Seeds
All organic seed


White Mountain Farm
Organic potatoes

Directory of Organic Seed Suppliers


Production & Compliance

Organic Production Handbook
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
This handbook includes invaluable information about organic practices, NOP regulations, EQIP conservation practices that support organic operations, organic nutrient management, ecological weed management, and a list of key resources.

Biodiversity Conservation: An Organic Farmer’s Guide
Wild Farm Alliance

National Organic Program website

Online record keeping system 


Sample Paper-Based Forms/Systems

Organic Vegetable Operation Record Keeping Systems
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Organic Market Farm Documentation Forms

Documentation Forms for Organic Crop and Livestock Producers
Sample forms to record on-farm practices and production activities.

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