University of Maryland Extension

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

Author: 
Neith Little, Extension Agent, Urban Agriculture


Urban Ag home | Table of contents

Having clear, concise, prioritized goals is the foundation of success. If you don’t know where you want to go, you will not get there.

Having clear goals is also a necessary pre-requisite to risk management. There is no one right way to be an urban farmer, no one right set of choices for everyone, because everyone’s situation, values, and goals are slightly different. Being able to verbalize what success looks like to you will help you weigh risks, rewards, and the time and resources available to you, and make informed decisions.

Please take the time to work through this section.

Start by putting your goals into your own words below, then use the prompts on the next page to refine your goals.

Then use the last page as work-space as you read the book to identify concrete actions you can take to work towards your goals.

For simplicity’s sake, this section will use the word “farm” to refer to the urban agriculture operation. You could ask the same questions about a garden, landscaping business, or other urban agriculture endeavor.


In your own words, what is the purpose of your urban farm? What does success look like?

Prompts to refine your goals:

What does financial success look like?

Goal for five years from now

Current status

Minimum necessary to continue

Ambitious but realistic goal

Your salary

Number of people
employed

Hourly wage of lowest
paid employee

What other large expenses does the farm income need to cover?


What role should the farm serve in the community?
For example: employer, workforce development, gathering space, place where people can grow their own food, source of affordable food, source of high-quality food, education, beauty.

Who in the community should benefit from the farm?
How should they benefit?

What environmental services can the farm provide?
For example: storm water management; habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife; shade; improved air quality

 

When these goals inevitably conflict, what is the one most important goal that you would be unwilling to sacrifice for the others?

Use this space to re-write:

In your own words, what is the purpose of your urban farm? What does success look like? ­­­­

What actions will you take to work towards your goals?
For each chapter you read, come back to this page and write down one action you will take to improve the stability of your farm and get closer to achieving your goals.

Examples:

What achievable, concrete action can you take?

How will this action move you closer to achieving your goals?

What steps do you need to take to achieve this action?

Chapter 1: Production systems

Use row covers to exclude pests before flowering

Preventing insect damage will increase marketable yields, which will help me produce more food. It will also reduce the need for spraying, which will protect beneficial insects.

Purchase row cover fabric, read or watch videos about how to effectively use row covers, train others, monitor for pests getting past the row cover, remove the row cover before crops flower.

Chapter 2: Economic assessment

Fill out a cash flow spreadsheet

Identifying the points in the year when cash is short will help me know when financial problems will arise before they happen, which will help me plan ways to keep everyone employed.

Identify sources of income, identify expenses, gather data from last year if available, estimate where necessary, identify most helpful data to collect going forward.

Write your own:

What achievable, concrete action can you take?

How will this action move you closer to achieving your goals?

What steps do you need to take to achieve this action?

Chapter 1: Production
systems

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Economic assessment

 

 

 

Chapter 3: Marketing

Chapter 4: Legal
risk management

Chapter 5: The human element

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