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NC State Extension

New Producers & Beginning Farmers

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There is growing interest in the exploration of farming as a new career in North Carolina and around the country. The primary challenges to new producers and beginning farmers include access to land, access to capital, and farm business planning training and support. This page is a starting point for aspiring producers and farmers to glean resources and knowledge that may answer questions and address challenges.

standing in a field with a basket of tomatoes

On This Page

Guides & Toolkits Incubator Farms in North Carolina
                                Programs                                                Regional & National New Farmer Support Organizations

New Producers & Beginning Farmers Resources

Find many local, state and national resources listed below to help you with anything from how to start a farm, to how to grow your local food business, to information on farm business planning. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, explore the Topics Tab or enter a keyword(s) in the Search Bar.

:Guides & ToolkitsGuides & Toolkits

Resource Description Resource Type
NC New Farmer Toolbox Toolbox of resources for beginning farmers on the business of farming, including NC focused resources on business planning, accessing capital and credit, land access, marketing and more. Farm Business Planning
Getting into Farming – A Workbook for Beginning Farmers in North Carolina Resource workbook developed in 2013 by the Bringing New Farmers to the Table Project. Authors: Branan, Andrew, Lee Miller, Marisa Alcorta, Tammy Howard, Hanna Lewis. This resource helps new farmers create a vision and financial plan for their business. Farm Business Planning
Growing Your Local Food Business: A guide to North Carolina laws and regulations A guide from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association for beginning and established farmers to help them understand the many federal and state laws and regulations that govern the production and sale of local foods. Specific sections provide outline requirements for farm-scale production and sale of meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, raw fruits & vegetables, honey, and low-risk manufactured foods (e.g., pickles and jams). Farm Business Planning
The Regulatory Environment for Farms in Western NC Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. This document provides an overview of licenses, taxes, certifications, land-use policies, and labor policies that apply to agriculture. Farm Business Planning- Guide to NC Laws and Regulations
New Farmers: Resources to Help Get You Started Farming This document from the USDA Rural Development Center lists federal resources that can help beginner farmers find and access federal resources. Farm Business Planning – USDA Beginning Farmer Resources
Farm Answers The USDA-NIFA beginning farmer and rancher (BFRDP) clearinghouse, providing resources to help you get started farming, as well as tools to help more seasoned producers succeed. Farm Business Planning – USDA Beginning Farmer Resources
The Farmer’s Guide to Agricultural Credit This guide from Rural Advancement Foundation International is aimed at helping farmers get ready to ask a lender for the financing needed in new and innovative ventures. When used as part of an overall enterprise development strategy, it can help farmers and lenders achieve mutually beneficial results when they sit down to do business. Capital Access
NC State Extension Farm Planning Website This Farm Planning site is meant to provide tools and resources to help new and experienced farmers best manage their business and property. Topics addressed include managing land and water, business development, taxes, liability and insurance, regulations, certifications and marketing. Extension Agents and Specialists are available to help you navigate further and answer farm-specific questions. Farm Planning


Extension Programs

Resource Description Resource Type
Small Farm Boot Camp An NC State Extension curriculum teaching foundational specialty crop and livestock production. New Farmer Training
NC Farmlink An NC State Extension program connecting farmers, landowners & service providers in North Carolina. Land Access
NC Farm School Program Regional training opportunities focused on beginning, aspiring. and transitioning farmers. New Farmer Training & Leadership Programs
Soldiers to Ag Program NC State Agricultural Institute’s five-week program at Fort Bragg providing hands-on training and an introduction to a variety of careers in agriculture. To learn more about this effort, contact Robert Elliott at, 252-725-4875, or if you’d like to contribute, go to to make a gift. New Farmer Training & Leadership Programs
CEFS Apprenticeships CEFS’ Sustainable Agriculture Apprenticeship Program is a hands-on work and study program that trains participants in many aspects of sustainable agriculture production, research, and education, as well as provides networking opportunities across the state. New Farmer Training & Leadership Programs

State & National Programs

Resource Description Resource Type
Farm Beginnings A farmer-led training and support program from Organic Growers School. Learn the skills that are required to start and expand a successful farm business: passion, clear goals, production experience, financial and marketing know-how, and more. New Farmer Training & Leadership Programs
Annie’s Project A 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing educational programs designed to strengthen women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise. Specific to Women in Agriculture
National Women In Agriculture Association A nonprofit working towards developing locally grown food security systems in underserved communities, engaging youth in agriculture and agribusiness skills, and more. Specific to Women & Youth in Agriculture
Women, Food, and Agriculture A nonprofit created for women to share the information, connections, and encouragement they need to be effective practitioners and supporters of sustainable agriculture and healthy localized food systems. Specific to Women in Agriculture
The Veteran’s Farm of North Carolina The Veteran’s Farm of NC, Inc. is a farm designed and dedicated to returning service members and veterans to educate on all aspects of agriculture. Specific to Veterans
USDA New Farmers This website includes resources for new farmers, youth, women and veterans. Personalize your search on the USDA website using the new Discovery Tool. Farm Business Planning – USDA Beginning Farmer Resources
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association CFSA is a farmer-driven, membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people through advocacy, system building and education. Their Sustainable Agriculture Conference generally has beginning farmer workshops and tours. It is based alternate years in Greenville, SC and Durham, NC.  New Farmer Training
Organic Growers School OGS provides year-round opportunities for farmers and home-growers of all levels. Their Annual Spring Conference in Western NC supports new and existing farmers and gardeners interested in organic and sustainable agriculture. New Farmer Training
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. They also host the Business of Farming Conference each year for new and aspiring farmers.  Farm Business Planning
NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture  ATTRA is a program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). It provides information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture. Enroll in their online training module, Getting Started in Farming: An Introduction to Farm Business Planning. It has eight lessons that will guide you through the process of imagining and planning a successful farming enterprise. Farm Business Planning

Incubator Farms in North Carolina

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) Farmer Incubator Program  – Buncombe County

Elma C. Lomax Research and Education Farm – Cabarrus County

Transplanting Traditions Community Farm – Orange County

Patterson School Foundation Incubator Farm – Caldwell County

W.C. Breeze Research and Education Farm – Orange County

The Vet Farm of NC, Inc. – Lee County

Memorial Industrial Community Development Corporation (MICDC) – Forsyth County

Good Hope Farm – Wake County

If you have an incubator farm program in North Carolina and would like to have your program listed here, please contact

Incubator Farms in NC

In partnership with NC FarmLink, the NC Local Food Program Team conducted surveys and interviews with farm incubator programs across North Carolina throughout 2023-2024. The results have been published in a farm incubator document for farmers, aspiring farmers, and those considering starting an incubator program. Incubator programs are diverse in their mission, goals, funding, structure, and capacity. We believe there is something to be learned from the wonderful incubator programs in this document, and they prove that incubator programs are not one-size-fits-all. For those interested in working with one of the farms or to learn more, you can contact each farm directly or contact us for general questions at

Want to start a new Incubator Farm?

  • National Incubator Farm Training Initiative – “Provides comprehensive one-on-one consulting, educational resources, and professional development opportunities for dozens of organizations throughout North America.”
  • The Farm Incubator Toolkit – “A comprehensive guide to starting and operating land-based beginning farmer training programs.”
  • Incubator Farm Planning Resources
    Resources for communities or organizations interested in starting new incubator farms developed through the North Carolina project, Bringing New Farmers to the Table, between 2010 and 2013.

Regional & National New Farmer Support Organizations