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Grants for farm?


Christine Conley Virginia Beach, VA

Hello, I am looking for approx. 20+ acres in Virginia, for small scale sustainable agriculture. I am presently involved with combat veteran and active duty advocacy, and would like to continue that as a dual purpose of the farm. I know there are grants available for small, disabled, veteran, women owned businesses, but they mostly cater to more mainstream careers. Does anyone have experience with applying for these sort of grants, or have any advice for a beginning farmer? Thank you in advance for your time!

21 October 2015 4 replies Networking



John Green Cary, NC

Hi Christine,

Love your dream, it is fantastic ! However, if you really want good advice, you should be prepared to address the realities.

You are at 'point A' right now, presumably with little money saved. You want to pursue your dream and trying to come up with ways to achieve it. Grants are really not the way to go.

Become skilled in a specialized skill, and in a few years, you could save your own money to buy your farm for cash. For example , some IT specialties pay over $200k per year. In five years, thats $1 million. You could buy a good sized farm for that.

Now a reality word about what it is you are trying to do. There is a reason why most small family farm operations have off-farm jobs to help support their farming habit. There is nothing you can grow on a small scale that isn't grown more efficiently by large outfits ... some domestically, some off-shore.

Even if you have a good track record of a hobby garden, turning that in to a large enough enterprise to generate a living cash flow is a whole other matter. It's like the stay-at-home Mom who loves to cook who suddenly thinks she's a restaurateur and is going to open a cash cow place on a whim and a shoestring and have time to enjoy all the profits she's going to bring home.

Just doesn't happen that way. If you choose to farm, you will never, ever have a day off. You will be working every day all day on all the chores that need done. Even if you have 20 kids and a faithful spouse to share the chores, there will never be enough hours in the day. You will work yourself to the bone and have nothing but alfalfa sprouts to show for it.

There is nothing wrong with gardening in the country. But earn your living first with a good career doing something else, then buy your sweet country cottage with a few acres of land to grow a garden or raise a chicken or two.

Best of luck to you, I hope my words help add balance to your dream.

21 October 2015 Helpful answer


jamie leifker Minneapolis, MN

these require a fair amount of paperwork and application approval, but the USDA has few options for you to consider. I started myself this way and now have several farms. please check the attached link and if you have questions please let me know


Jeremy Serwer Woodstock, CT

Hi Christine --

While not a farmer, I live in a rural agricultural area. Have you tried your state's Farm Bureau? We're members here in Connecticut, solely for the wealth of information they provide -- and to support them. I'm willing to bet they can help you out, or at least refer you elsewhere that can.

Heal well -- thanks, and good luck.



Christine Conley Virginia Beach, VA

Thank you so much for your quick response, Mr. Green! And I do appreciate the sage advice. Perhaps I should have provided a bit more info to help clarify the situation. I was medically retired this year, unfortunately. Due to my injuries, going in to law enforcement or other field which would have translated nicely from military career to civilian career are not an option (I am in a wheelchair temporarily from my sixth surgery since returning from my last deployment). Hence my realistic approach to 'small scale'. In the past three years, I have done market analysis and have found numerous restaurants already involved in farm to table cuisine, spoken to the local Whole Foods and other specialty grocers, and there is definitely a market for what I intend to do, particularly because this is a large military area and they are supportive of veteran products. I do not need the enterprise to sustain a paycheck for myself. Does this provide a bit more insight into my intentions?
Thank you again!

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