Want to start your own urban farm? This 2-day class will save you time and money down the road
If you're thinking about starting an urban farming business, you're not alone! Thankfully (for the planet and for society) more and more people are becoming interested in commercial urban farming. Some of these new farms are hydroponic greenhouses, some are completely indoors, and others are soil-based - whether on a rooftop or on the ground. Some focus more on being scalable and replicable, while others put more emphasis on social and environmental impacts.
Whatever kind of farming business you're thinking of starting, it's essential to understand what you're getting into and what steps you'll need to take to achieve your goals.
New farming entrepreneurs can get caught up in all the excitement without exercising enough careful planning, leading to expensive mistakes down the line. As successful and impactful as an urban farm can be, there are a lot of risks that go into starting a farm business, and there is plenty of bad information out there.
Take on-farm waste, for example. New farmers all too frequently miscalculate their expected wastage for the first few years. You might think that your wastage will be around 5% starting off, but in reality it will probably be closer to 30%, and then decrease incrementally for the next couple of years. A good way to plan for this is by modelling various scenarios until you have a realistic projection for your farm.
It is also common for new farms to miscalculate their labor costs and equipment depreciation. The point here is that even if your farm looks fantastic on paper, early (and easily avoidable) calculation errors can ruin a new business in the first few years.
Another common mistake in the industry is thinking that you need to go big right away. This is a recipe for disaster. The bigger you go right away, the more costly your mistakes are going to be and the harder it will be to bounce back. There is so much that can and does go wrong, and it is impossible to plan for things that you don't even know to expect. The simple solution is pilot, pilot, pilot! Make your mistakes before you scale up, when they are much less costly and significantly easier to correct.
Thankfully, resources exist to help new farmers avoid these costly mistakes as they're formalizing their initial concept and business plan. One such resource is the Agritecture Commercial Urban Farming Class, happening next on April 20-21 in NYC. This 2-day intensive class gives you the practical skills and insider knowledge to successfully plan out your farm and move forward with a strategy that makes sense for your specific goals.
Commercial urban farming is a relatively new enterprise, and starting a farm from the ground up is often a frightening endeavor, even for experienced entrepreneurs. Costly mistakes and bad information can cripple even the most well-funded businesses.
But by taking the time at the onset to develop your ideas and learn about the most common mistakes - and how to avoid them - you can save yourself a lot of wasted time and resources down the road. Don't let the risks discourage you, just take a little time now to better understand and learn how to mitigate them.