University of Maryland Extension


Neith Little, Extension Agent, Urban Agriculture

Urban Ag home | Table of contents

Managing the human part of a farm is likely to be the most complex part of a farmer’s work, and is likely to require skills outside the prior experience of many farmers.

  • Plan how to minimize physical health and safety risks, including equipment-related injuries, heat and sun, air quality, and pesticides.

  • Learn about your legal responsibilities to protect the safety of everyone working on your farm, but in particular youth and employees.

  • Invest time in stewarding your own mental health and explore health insurance options for small businesses and self-employed individuals.

  • If your farm has employees, volunteers, interns, apprentices, or anyone who works in exchange for food or lodging, you should learn more about labor laws and consider how to manage your farm’s responsibilities and risks. Conversely, if you are a farm worker, it’s also a good idea to learn more about your rights under labor laws. Even if your farm has no paid employees, it’s worth learning more about labor laws.

  • Consider food safety risks and risks to visitors to your farm, and explore liability insurance options. For small farms liability insurance is often less expensive than you would expect!

  • Cultivate good relationships with your neighbors, and if your urban farm is mission-focused be prepared to dig deeply into the work of community engagement.

  • Plan for the future of your farm with transition planning, including identifying what the farm’s future could look like after you leave it, keeping good records, and seeking help from an attorney and accountant.

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