Sector Development

Research & Reports

Our programs have been shaped by our findings from long-term research studies about factors for success for farm and food businesses. Most recently, as part of a cohort of more than 50 farm and food business technical assistance providers and funders, The Carrot Project led the development of a strategic agenda, outlined in The Blueprint [link to AVA 2020 One-pager], for the development of a regional network of organizations, programs and services that supports the long-term economic viability of farm and food businesses. The Blueprint is the foundational document of the new Agricultural Viability Alliance.

 

The following reports were produced by The Carrot Project or we were primary authors in a collaborative effort.

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The Blueprint

As part of a cohort of more than 50 farm and food business technical assistance providers and funders, The Carrot Project led the development of a strategic agenda, outlined in The Blueprint, for the development of a regional network of organizations, programs and services that supports the long-term economic viability of farm and food businesses. The Blueprint is the foundational document of the new Agricultural Viability Alliance.

 

Download the Blueprint One-pager
Download the Blueprint Executive Summary

Making It Happen: Measuring Profitability and Success Pilot (2016)

Visit Making It Happen: Measuring Profitability and Success Pilot (2016)

 

 

Based on two years of research into the importance of business management skill development and access to capital for small farmers, we developed a training and set of resources designed to help farmers understand and strategically implement a variety of financial management tools in order to increase the financial strength of their operations. In early 2016, 89 participants participated in six trainings in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. Participants were assessed on their financial management skills before and after the training. A year later, we found that training participants more frequently tracked their income and expenses, revised their financial projections, and consulted their business plans, but indicated that future trainings should go into greater depth about applying theoretical concepts to participants’ own farms. View the NESARE-funded study here.

 

Measuring Profitability and Success (2015)

Visit Measuring Profitability and Success (2015)

The Carrot Project’s NESARE-funded study Measuring Profitability and Success showed that financial management skills and net farm income can increase when a farm partners with a business advisor and has access to financing over a two-year period. The Carrot Project and its partners (see below) provided 23 farmers with business and financial management technical assistance and/or financing over a two-year period. We focused on enterprise development to improve net farm income and help farmers reach their business goals, while tracking qualitative and quantitative changes in each farm. We showed that participating farms improved their financial management skills; moreover, building these skills and the resulting increased confidence are important to giving farmers the tools they need to reach their farms’ goals –– both quality of life and financial. Participants saw an average increase of 52% in net income over two years, and 55% of the participants saw a 142% increase in net farm income. We detail the results of this project in a final report, with examples of our work in the four accompanying case studies:

Two Farmers Farm Case Study
Yard Birds Farm Case Study
Skinny Dip Farm Case Study

Project partners:

Bella Farm
University of Vermont Cooperative Extension
Coastal Enterprises, Inc
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)
Julia Shanks Food Consulting
North 30 Company
Higher Ground Farm

 

Small Farms in a Changing Credit Landscape (2010)

This report describes the changes in the credit market in recent years, and how these changes have negatively impacted small farmers. It also describes the capacity of small farmers as borrowers and makes recommendations to address related issues. The report is based on a presentation by John Moukad, a community development finance expert and a member of The Carrot Project Advisory Board. Download a copy of Small Farms in a Changing Credit Landscape.

 

Lessons Learned: The MicroLoan Fund for New England Farmers (2009)

In this paper, we discuss what we learned — in speaking with farmers (those who applied and those who decided not to), The Carrot Project Loan Review Committee members, members of our Program Oversight Committee, and Chittenden Bank (now People’s United Bank) — in our effort to understand what improvements could be made to our first loan program once the initial round of funding was completed. Download a copy of Lessons Learned: 2009 Microloan Fund for New England Farmers.

Are Northeast Small Farmers in a Financing Fix? Research Results on Financing Gaps and Program Opportunities (2008)

The Carrot Project created, tested, and implemented the Farmers’ Financing Needs Assessment to gain a better understanding of the financing obstacles facing small and midsized farms. The survey portion of the assessment was completed by 706 farmers in New York and the New England states. The information gained from this survey and related focus groups has guided the development of our work. This report answers questions such as what type of farmer is unable to find adequate financing, and what type of lending options and equity funding would be appropriate for such operations. Download a copy of Are Northeast Small Farmers in a Financing Fix?

Setting Up Farmer Microloans in Three States (2011)

This report focuses on Case Studies and Lessons Learned in 2009 and 2010 from our operation of three loan programs in different states. The programs’ shared goal is provision of financing to small and midsized start-up farms and expanding farm businesses with limited or no access to capital. Loans were made to a diverse group of farmers, and some were supported with business planning or financial management services. Download a copy of Setting Up Farmer Microloans in Three States.

Agricultural Viability Alliance

“The Carrot Project has the unique ability to work at the grassroots, and simultaneously use data and its expertise in the policy space. There is no disconnect. The two spheres of influence inform one another.” Jess Brooks, SunWealth and Advisory Board Member.

 

Our goal is to use our knowledge and relationships to catalyze and lead systemic change across New England, and launch an alliance of business advisors across the region. We collaborate with other organizations to provide our clients with the fullest network of support and to build a strong local farm and food system.

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Agricultural Viability Alliance: Cultivating Food and Farm Entrepreneurs

The Agricultural Viability Alliance  increases the number and economic viability of farm and food businesses by bringing together providers and organizations from across New England and New York’s Hudson Valley to address shared challenges, facilitate more uniform high-quality coverage, and more effectively share and expand limited resources.

This project serves business technical assistance providers and organizations that will ultimately support the long-term viability of farms and food enterprises in the region. In addition to our economic impact, our work also fosters a more equitable and inclusive sector that engages traditionally underserved communities, and we support and strengthen entrepreneurs who help conserve farmland and mitigate the effects of climate change for generations to come.

Farm and food businesses feed us, help keep our environment healthy, can mitigate climate change, and support our regional economy—so we need them to be viable, thriving businesses. Business technical assistance ensures they can succeed.

Alliance Leadership

Executive Committee

Ela Chapin, Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program
Todd Erling, Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation
Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project

Steering Committee

Stephen Hadcock, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Jim Hafner, Land for Good
Gray Harris, CEI Maine
Jennifer Hashley, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
Nathan L’Etoile, American Farmland Trust
Christopher Wayne, Grow NYC
Get Involved

Alliance Resources

Questions

Johanna de Graffenreid
Coordinator – The Agricultural Viability Alliance
she/her pronouns
johanna@thecarrotproject.org
617 674 2371, Ext. 6