Workshops on Farm Business

Richard's experience from farming full time for the last 35 years, coupled with his thirst for appropriate farm business strategies, gives a  hard-to-find authenticity to his workshops. Farmers often learn best from other farmers, and Richard's easy going style helps this information sharing. Richard offers workshops on numerous farm topics, from making a profit to employee management to farm Mechanization. Custom tailored workshops to suit your group's needs, as well as webinars, are also an option. Workshop modules usually run 1.25-1.5 hours.

 

NEW! The workshops just got reworked, see the new line up below.

 

Full day workshops can be put together from any of the listed workshops below, or custom designed. A popular full day workshop is: Farming Smarter, Not Harder/ Determing Your Costs of Production/ lunch break/ Mind Your Business: Financial Literacy & Effective Business Management for Farmers/ Farm Mechanization and Efficiencies and/or Employee Management. Two day workshops are also available.  All workshops work fine as stand alone presentations as well. Contact Richard for rates.

 

"Carolina Farm Stewardship Association was thrilled to host Richard in 2011 and bring his important information to our members.  Both his sessions were standing-room only in the largest room we had.  I heard lots of great feedback about the workshops"   -Conference program manager.

 

“Richard was very easy to work with. He was willing to tailor his talk to our audience and was flexible and professional. I would work with him again in a heartbeat!” –Workshop coordinator, WI.

 

Richard Wiswall has presented for the following organizations: ACORN, New Brunswick, Canada,  Bioneers MA, Brooklyn Grange, NY, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association NC, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture MA, UCONN, CT, Cornell Cooperative Association NY, Ecofarm CA, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Canada, Farmstart, Canada, Florida Extension, Goddard College VT, Granite State Graziers, NH, Kansas Farmers Union, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute WI, Maine Organic and Farming and Gardening Association, Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) MA, NOFA NH, NOFA NJ, NOFA VT, Ontario Cooperative Association Canada, Oregon State University, OSHER VT, Partners of America Honduras, PASA, PA, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Regional Farm and Food NY, Small and Beginner Farmers of NH, Southern Sustainable Ag Working Group, AR, Sterling College VT, Stone Barns Center, NY, University of Vermont, Vermont Technical College, Young Farmers Network, RI, and others.

Farming Smarter, Not Harder: Planning for Profit             

   Farming offers fundamental satisfaction from producing food, working outdoors, being one’s own boss, and working intimately with nature. But unfortunately, many farmers avoid learning about the business end of farming; because of this, they often work harder than they need to, or quit farming altogether because of frustrating- and often avoidable- losses. This workshop will focus on the planning and analysis tools needed to run a profitable farm, in an easy, step-by-step format. Tips for beginner farmers will finish the session.

Determine Your Costs of Production: Farm Budgets Made Simple

 

   Ever wonder how much it costs to produce a dozen eggs? A feeder pig? Hoophouse greens? Are you making a profit with them given your current sales prices? Longtime organic farmer Richard Wiswall will demystify production costs for various farm ventures and show which ones are making money or not.  This group working session will simplify and enlighten the process of determining profitability for any of your farm endeavors. Beginning and seasoned farmers alike will benefit, and share in some eye opening results. 

NEW: MIND YOUR BUSINESS! Financial Literacy and Effective Business Management for Farmers

What does it mean to be "In Business"? Why should you keep records? Because Richard said so? No! To better manage your farm business so you can work less and make more money? Yes! Now that you are in the farming business, learn the language of business. Be a highly effective manager, learn the macro and micro tools of financials, and benefit from some quick tips for success.

NEW: Farm Mechanization Efficiencies. Learn the tools of the trade for greater farming efficiency. Cultivation tools to maximize weed control, harvest tools to speed the harvest, and packhouse tools for quicker and easier processing will all be covered. Cost/benefit analysis will show how long it will take for a new tool to pay for itself.  Greenhouse innovations are highlighted as well. 

Effective Employee Management for Farmers


The purpose of hiring employees is to help the farmer tackle the farm workload. Quite often, farmers think that each added employee-hour should decrease the farmer’s workload by equal amounts. Not so. Being an effective and efficient manager of farm employees take time, effort and some skill.

   Richard Wiswall will share his insights on effective employee management, including practical tips, a brief overview of the legal requirements, important filing deadlines, SEP IRAs and spousal social security options.

NEW: STARTING YOUR OWN FARM BUSINESS FROM SCRATCH.

 

What are the very first steps needed to begin farming? A systematic look at all the issues a new farmer faces will drastically shorten the often steep learning curve. From surveying the available market channels to putting smart money into the bank, attendees will see the whole picture of what it takes to operate a successful farm. Designed for those with some experience (apprentices, farm workers), or people just starting out.

NEW: Packhouse Design, Farm Layout Strategies, and Grading & Pack Standards

 

Be as efficient as possible with a well designed farm and packhouse. Farmers are in the business of material handling, and a few steps saved here or there add up over time.  Learn the standard packout for different types of vegetables to put in the box or bag, and how to build pallets for bagged or boxed crops.  Time saving tools and tips are highlighted. 

NEW: Effective Farm Mentorships: Training the trainers.

   Many experienced farmers are happy to share their knowledge with other less experienced farmers. The exchange is very meaningful and rewarding work. But being a seasoned farmer doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good mentor to others. What are some key issues to becoming a good farmer mentor? This 1.5 hour workshop will leave attendees knowledgeable and confident of their role as mentor to other farmers. Topics include: the underlying and unspoken dynamics between farmer mentor and mentee, do’s and don’ts of interactions, structures of visits & the structure of the mentorship, and mentor office logistics.

   The workshop is geared to an audience of experienced farmers and organizations with mentor programs.

 

 

The Efficient Farm Office

 


  The Efficient Farm Office emphasizes procedures to eliminate otherwise undetected lost profits. The two paper trails- Purchases and Sales- are examined to guarantee no lost sales revenue and achieve maximum tax benefits. Purchases and subsequent bill paying systems are set up for maximum efficiency. The Sales paper trail seems straight forward but pitfalls abound, including leaks from a CSA, Farmers’ Market, and even invoiced sales. Richard performs a humorous office skit to emphasize key points.

 

“It was good to see him go through his office routine – it really drives home the efficiency and importance of proper office flow/paper flow.”  CSA farmer, WI.

What Others Say


"Richard Wiswall has helped my business become more sustainable. Both his workshops and his book have enabled me to hone my skills in financial analysis, record keeping and all-around professionalism. His firm belief that farms can and should be financially successful provides motivation and encouragement for all of us who make our living on the land."

 

Mimi Arnstein

Farmer Owner

Wellspring Farm, Marshfield, VT

 



 

"It has been such a pleasure working with Richard over the years.  Not only is he knowledgeable about the business of farming, he tempers the hard facts with humour and enthusiasm.  Non-judgmental and generous with his time, we would highly recommend him to anyone wishing to start or fine-tune their farming venture."

 

Joy and John Primmer

Wildstone Farm, VT

 

 

 

"Richard is an excellent speaker and knows the ins and outs of farm finances. The examples we worked through as a group were great!”

 

CSA farmer, WI

 

 

 


Richard Wiswall has long had a practical, effective, and user-friendly approach to business management for diversified farms. He’s shared this approach by consulting with individual farmers and through his excellent book aimed at organic vegetable growers. As the Extension vegetable and berry specialist for Vermont I have seen first-hand how his advice has aided the success of farms, from start-ups to those with lots of experience. In person and on paper, Wiz has a lively style that engages farmers in thinking clearly about a topic that is at the core of farm viability.

 

-Vern Grubinger, VT

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