A lot of people fantasize about trading in the corporate rat race for the bucolic life. But a farmer’s life is not an easy one. There is more to it than sitting on the porch and waiting for the corn to come in.

Still, for those who dream of owning and operating their own farms, the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) will offer a course on the basics of small farm enterprise beginning on Tuesday, October 18, at 6 p.m. at Duke Farms in Hillsborough. Classes will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on October 25, November 1, and November 8. Cost: $350. Call 908-371-1111 or visit www.nofanj.org.

The course is designed to show students what will it takes to start and manage a small farm enterprise. Students will, according to NOFA, review opportunities in small-scale agriculture, explore their objectives, assess their personal skills and financial resources, conduct preliminary market research, and develop an action plan.

While small farms are often successful, prospective farmers should be aware of some of the realities. According to the University of Maryland, which recently published a report on what it takes to operate a small farm, small farms face four key challenges: limited purchasing power (small farmers do not buy supplies in large enough quantities to warrant discounts), low output, limited space, and limited knowledge and experience.

NOFA’s course is its first attempt to turn lack of knowledge into understanding of the farm life. But NOFA emphasizes that this course will not teach anyone how to farm. Instead it seeks to help aspiring farmers explore their business ideas and clarify the steps needed to turn the farm dream into a working reality.

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