New Farmer Toolbox

Please note: this project was supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program from 2010 to 2013.

At each stage on this path, aspiring and beginning farmers have very different needs for information, resources, and technical assistance.

The New Farmer Toolbox has been developed with a focus on resources for four of the top challenges to new and beginning farmers in North Carolina:

The Toolbox has been developed to have a North Carolina focus, but references national resources when they can have relevance to North Carolina farmers.

Numerous organizations in North Carolina are offering internships, apprenticeships, skill training, networking, and other kinds of support for new farmers. This Toolbox is currently focused on the business aspects of farming. This is not to be considered an exhaustive list. And we encourage you to look through the resources to determine which is the most appropriate for your needs. If you have other resources that you’ve found helpful that are not listed, please share them with the project coordinator.

New material created through project funding is marked as (NEW). Our collaborators included the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), and Andrew Branan, an attorney who concentrates his practice in production agriculture and land transfer issues.

Typical stages in a farming career

What is the “typical path” for a Beginning Farmer? New farmers typically pass through several stages of commitment, skill, decision-making, responsibility, and risk as they explore and enter into a farming career.


The above diagram has been adapted from Cathy Shells and Marcia Descartes, Working with New Farmers (New England Small Farm Institute, 2004). Complete article and other resources available at

This project was supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, grant #2010-49400-21733. To learn more about this program, and to find more resources for beginning farmers, please visit