Small Farm Program Updates for Pennsylvania

Posted: January 17, 2011

The Pennsylvania State University’s Small Farm project has updated four Agricultural Alternatives publications and has launched a new web site for new and beginning or existing farmers.

The updated Agricultural Alternatives publications are: Cucumber Production, Dairy Heifer Production, Pepper Production, and Watermelon Production. A new web site entitled “A Guide to Farming in Pennsylvania” contains links to farm management and business information that are useful to a wide range of users, from people just beginning an agribusiness to retiring farmers concerned about passing the farm on to the next generation.

The Agricultural Alternatives publications may be accessed on-line. Print versions are available through the Agricultural Publications office at 814-865-6713 or by e-mail at

The new web site is modeled after Cornell’s “A Guide to Farming in New York State”.

The site includes sections on:

  • Pre-Venture
  • Production, which includes:
    • Agronomy
    • Dairy
    • Equipment
    • Horticulture
    • Livestock and Poultry
  • Marketing
  • Value-Added Agriculture
  • Farm Transition
  • Appendix A - Agricultural Alternatives
  • Appendix B - Ag Agency Listing

The Pre-Venture section includes many topics about getting started in agricultural production and information about managing employees and links to the documents needed when hiring employees. The section contains information about business planning, purchasing land, budgeting, and financing for beginning farmers.  Laws and regulations governing agriculture (including organic certification) in Pennsylvania are also covered.

The Production section is divided into broad production area and contains information about production methods, business topics, and marketing information. Breaking the information into these broad production areas allows users to find the information they seek much quicker than searching the Internet themselves.

The marketing section contains links to information about market planning, direct marketing, and market exchanges. These sections cover the basic marketing principles while the marketing topics contained in the production sections contain the details for the specific production areas.

The value-added section contains information about planning and marketing, food processing, and other opportunities. The other opportunities section includes agritainment, organic production, and renewable energy information. Many of these topics are in-depth and contain links to agencies that can guide the user through the start-up process.

The Farm Transition section contains information for those seeking to exit farming or interested in passing the operation to the next generation. Because many of the regulations concerning this topic are state and farm specific, this chapter focuses on the steps involved in creating a farm succession plan. It may also be used by those in the business planning process to provide information for their business plan.

Appendix A is a link to the Agricultural Alternatives site which contains publications covering enterprises of interest to farmers in Pennsylvania. Appendix B is a listing of governmental agencies involved with agriculture and organizations supporting farming and rural lifestyles in PA. These agencies and organizations are sources of valuable information for new or existing producers.

This site will be used by extension educators to field the questions like “What do I need to do to start a business?” or “I have a few acres and would like some additional income, what should I do?” Anyone considering a new business or enterprise will find a one-stop place for much of the information they require. Current farmers may use the site to easily access production guides and find other crop-specific production and marketing information including market prices for crops and livestock throughout Pennsylvania.

Contact Information

Lynn Kime
  • Senior Extension Associate
Phone: 717-677-6116