University of Maryland Extension

Table of contents

Written by Neith Little, Kim Rush Lynch, Dale Johnson, Nicole Cook, and Ginger Myers

Urban Ag home | Table of contents

Table of contents image puzzle pieces

Table of Contents

Title page
Table of Contents


Does any of this sound familiar
What is urban agriculture
What is the definition of “urban agriculture”?
What is the definition of “urban”? 
What does urban agriculture look like?
Literature cited   

What does success look like for you? Setting goals for your urban farm

Chapter 1: Urban production systems

Production systems

Production topics to learn more about

Literature cited

Chapter 2: Economic assessment and risk management

  • What is profit?
  • What about not-for-profits?
  • Setting profit goals
  • Setting income goals
  • Calculating expenses
  • Variable/Operating expenses
  • Fixed/Overhead expenses
  • Depreciation
  • Calculating the profit
  • What is enterprise profit?

Using an income statement to calculate and project profit

  • Historical versus projected income statements
  • Example farm income statement
  • Calculating profit for taxes
  • How to improve farm profits?

What is cash flow?

  • Cash flow periods
  • Income & expenses versus inflow & outflows
  • Example farm cash flow
  • Usefulness cash flow
  • Solving cash flow problems
  • Recordkeeping
  • Recording financial transactions
  • Which computer accounting program should I use
  • What accounting period should be used?

Additional resources and literature cited

Chapter 3: Marketing challenges and opportunities

  • Urban advantages

Moving from producer to marketer—do what you enjoy

  • Marketing Basics

1. Define your product

  • What are you selling
  • Differentiating what you sell
  • Crops with the most potential
  • Customers and the competition

2. Price

  • Where to begin
  • Resources for pricing

3. Place

  • Direct marketing alternatives
  • Non-direct marketing alternatives
  • Value-added processing for urban farmers
  • Which markets fit your operation?

4. Promotion

  • Creating a brand through your story
  • Building your brand
  • Marketing collateral
  • Digital marketing tools

Additional resources and literature cited

Chapter 4: Managing legal risks to grow your urban farm


  • Action Items

Land access, zoning, and permitting

  • Land acquisition and access
  • Types of property rights
  • City-supported land access programs
  • Land use regulations and zoning
  • Building codes
  • Other hyper-local building standards
  • Water access and usage laws
  • Those pesky nuisance claims

Production, handling, and distribution

  • Food safety
  • Federal food safety laws
  • State food safety laws
  • Food safety certifications
  • Food safety laws for processed “cottage,” or value-added foods
  • Resources for food safety laws
  • Contracts
  • Marketing laws and social media

Taxes and related legal issues

  • Choice of business entity structure
  • Income taxes for for-profit businesses
  • Taxes for not-for-profit organizations
  • Property tax incentives for urban agriculture


  • How does insurance work
  • Mandatory insurance
  • Business liability protection
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Property casualty protection
  • Crop insurance

Bonus reading

  • What’s federalism got to do with it?
  • Urban farming in the 2018 Farm Bill
  • Tips on how to work with regulators and permitters
  • What if I want to change a law?

Additional resources and literature cited

Chapter 5:The human element: rights and responsibilities, safety and stress

Physical health and safety
Mental health and stress management
Health insurance
Employees and volunteers

  • Hiring and retention

Customers, protecting their safety and your liability
Neighbor and community engagement

  • Neighbor relations, because you can’t not
  • Community engagement, if you want to do something about food deserts

Transition planning
Additional resources and literature cited


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