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Sample Worksheet (4)


Excerpts from the Explorer Workbook - Worksheet 4

© Copyright The New England Small Farm Institute, 2003


Knowledge & Skills Assessment

What makes a successful farm owner-operator? In the fall of 1999, NESFI asked this question of a panel of experienced small-scale farmers, all of whom were actively farming in the Northeast. The outcome of this exercise, the "DACUM Occupational Profile for Northeast Small Scale ‘Sustainable' Farmer", lists duties and tasks performed by successful small farm owner-operators. Importantly, the identified duties and tasks include business knowledge and skills as well as technical farming knowledge and skills.

Each "new farmer" entering the field of agriculture comes to it with a unique combination of life experience, educational background and work history. For instance, individuals who are considering a career change may have a wealth of management, business and marketing knowledge, but little actual farming experience. On the other hand, those with considerable on-farm experience may have few business management skills. Often, just how much relevant experience you already have is not immediately obvious until you sit down and do an inventory. You probably know and can do much more than you think. And, even if you do not personally have all the knowledge and skills needed to start and manage an agricultural business, you may find you have access to what you need through family members, advisors, business partners, and/or friends.

While the focus of this workbook is to help you determine the level of your interest in the business of agriculture, it is important for you to understand the full range of skills and knowledge you will need to run your farm successfully. Use Worksheet #4, based on the Occupational Profile noted above, to help you identify what you already know, and to prioritize the training or experience you will need to gain in order to begin your new venture. Do not be discouraged if the list seems overwhelming. The chart represents the full range of possible farm tasks, and many may not apply to the enterprises you have in mind. Remember, too, that you do not have to do everything yourself. Use the chart to identify roles for family members, partners, employees or contracted help as well as for yourself. If possible, invite each of these individuals to complete a copy of Worksheet #4 as well.

When you have completed Worksheet #4 (see left), summarize your conclusions on the Section One Worksheet Summary, page 28.