No farmer is too old to adapt or try something new. The key is openness to discovering the right money-maker. Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station is making that task simpler.
The Ultra-Niche Crops for the Progressive New Farmer project provides detailed information on high-value crops that can be grown on 10 acres or less. The goal is to teach new and beginning farmers about cultivating, marketing and managing the business side of 10 ultra-niche crops. Thus far, only seven are targeted. But anyone can access the information online.
So what’s ‘ultra-niche’?
Ultra-niche means exceptionally high-value crops that can be grown on 10 acres or less. To date, online resources are compiled for cut flowers, winter high-tunnel lettuce and strawberries. But here’s the whole list, including current active online links:
• cut flowers
• lettuce, high-tunnel winter
• mushrooms, shiitake
• peppers, specialty
• raspberries, high-tunnel
Each crop link will have a variety of resources including virtual field trips and crop profiles with budgets, plus food safety and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis worksheets. And, the site will have 13 video fact sheets to provide a road map for managing a business successfully.
The virtual field trips are 20-minute videos that include a farmer, a consumer and an expert. You’ll be able to virtually visit the farm, see how the crop is grown, see what buyers look for and hear from an expert about any specific difficulties a crop may pose.
The online crop profiles with budgets show how budgets are an essential part of planning and risk analysis. Crop budgets allow you to estimate costs and potential income, before allocating funds and other resources.
The food safety backgrounder is critical to any operation today, given the Food Safety Modernization Act regulations. That segment includes worksheets for designing a food safety plan.
A SWOT analysis is also critical. It’s a structured planning method that evaluates those four elements of a project or business venture. These worksheets will guide you in performing an enterprise analysis and crop feasibility analysis.
In today's competitive market, all businesses need a business plan, but most don't have them. This site is a good step in the right direction and empowers farmers who have them.
Classes will also be offered across New Jersey on the ultra-niches. Assistance will be provided by Extension experts for filling out the food safety and SWOT worksheets, and many opportunities to network will be available.
For all the details, click on ultra-niche crops.
Source: Rutgers Extension