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The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff - and Making a Profit Paperback – October 9, 2009


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The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff - and Making a  Profit + The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, 2nd Edition (A Gardener's Supply Book) + The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; Pap/Cdr edition (October 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603581421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603581424
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Generous, unique, and comprehensive - this book will help every farmer to better set goals, reach those goals, and improve their bottom line!"--Ela Chapin, Program Director, Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program




"What a breath of fresh air! Richard Wiswall challenges the conventional notion that there's no real money in farming. He argues that farmers should be well-compensated, and then he shows how to make that happen. Every farmer--organic or not, beginner or experienced--should read this book."--Lynn Byczynski, editor and publisher of Growing for Market, a journal of news and ideas for local food producers




"Many people become organic farmers because they love growing crops and working the land, but truth be told that's often the easy part. Richard Wiswall's book provides practical, real-world guidance for dealing with the hard part: the business of farming."--Vern Grubinger, Vegetable and Berry Specialist, University of Vermont Extension




"Here is a call to 'wake up and smell the pencil shavings!'--that a sharp pencil (and the ability to use it) is an essential tool for every farmer's toolbox. Farmers old and new will find great practical benefit from Wiswall's book."--Andrew Brait, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA



"How could anyone hope to produce a business guidebook useful to one of the most diverse, independent, even contrary groups of people on earth? This essential book is overdue! While the principles have been around for some time, this is the first they have been assimilated and tested so successfully."--Ed Martsolf, Petit Jean Farm, Morrilton, Arkansas




"Richard Wiswall has given us a finely tuned handbook to run a profitable organic farm. Most farmers love the growing part but dread the business end, and suffer financially for it. This is a book that I will recommend to ANY farmer regardless of how long he or she has been in business. There are a lot of hard-learned lessons contained within that will help avoid reinventing the wheel, as so many of us have."--Mark Wheeler, Pacific Botanicals LLC, Grants Pass, OR

About the Author

Richard Wiswall started Cate Farm in East Montpelier, Vermont, where he has farmed since 1981. Known for his work on farm profitability and appropriate business tools, Wiswall consults with other farmers, and writes and speaks frequently on organic-farm business issues. He is the author of book The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook and Business Advice for Organic Farmers, a practical workshop available on DVD. To learn more about Wiswall and Cate Farm, visit www.catefarm.com.


More About the Author

Richard Wiswall started Cate Farm in East Montpelier, Vermont, where he has farmed since 1981. Known for his work on farm profitability and appropriate business tools, Wiswall consults with other farmers and writes and speaks frequently on organic-farm business issues. To learn more about Wiswall and Cate Farm, visit www.catefarm.com . For information on Richard's workshops and consulting services on farm business management, visit www.richardwiswall.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A good read very informative.
matthew mckee
Great book for beginner farmers and small business owners with little experience and accounting background.
M. Paulin
Probably the most important book I'll read this year.
One Straw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Bart Hall on January 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Wiswall's book makes a decent start, and the costing templates are pretty good. It's nicely illustrated. The writing is appropriately colloquial and flows reasonably well within chapters.

The chapter structure, however, is rather incoherent, interspersing chapters on assorted aspects of cost accounting and very simple cash flow management with others on marketing, time management, and employees. A chapter on office paper flow is followed by one that lumps together retirement planning and business spending. Then comes one on greenhouses and field production efficiencies. The next chapter discusses writing a business plan, and then a final (3-page) chapter on estate planning. Huh?

The sections on production management will be quite helpful to people who've not considered such things systematically, but they do contain some rather sloppy errors. For example, on p. 100 he talks about setting the wheel spacings on all tractors to 60 inches (which is the same as we use for our vegetable production), yet in the very next paragraph he describes large plants such as squash as being on a "6-foot spacing overall."

Similarly, his basic stuff on office organization will be helpful to growers who are currently doing little more than handing a grocery sack full of receipts to their tax person once a year. Unfortunately, his ideas on managing the flow of funds between family and farm are somewhat convoluted. Intuit's accounting programs (which he uses) have easier ways of addressing the same problem. And using the same credit card for business and family purchases is just a giant make-work project.

Wiswall is way out of his depth in regard to all he writes about capital management.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Beth Spaugh Barber on October 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
First, the book is written for farmers (and other small business owners/wannabees) who have not felt comfortable with indepth business analysis. He keeps the business analysis at a simple, attainable level, with recommended resources for those who want to dig deeper or do more complex planning. It is written as a farmer for farmers, and as such, it is easy for us to understand, appreciate, and apply. I have been fortunate to participate in workshops led by Wiswall so much of the material is not new to me, and the need for this information is not new, but I still felt having it together in print is a worthwhile purchase. Having his notes from the management workshops, being aware of basic business management needs, and still struggling with equipment systems, the production chapter was actually my favorite.

In response to the negative review, the chapter structure read fine to me. It is a read through and then go back and do exercises book. Yes it is written from a production manager's perspective, which is why the rest of us production managers can accept and apply what he is saying. It makes sense and appears to have value as presented from a production manager to production managers. The statement that his tractor tires are on 60" centers for 6 foot beds threw me at first also, until I read in the production chapter that he overlaps the wheel tracks half width, resulting in 6 foot spacing to provide a margin of error in subsequent field operations. Not a mistake after all - just needed clarification at that point. I also felt that the level of detail in Wiswall's business planning forms and exercises was perfect for smaller farmers who have not yet adopted formal written business management practices - he makes it attainable rather than overwhelming.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By T. Colman on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Author Richard Wiswall has been farming for over 25 years on a cool organic farm in Vermont.

He has done farmers everywhere a service with this new book on running a profitable organic farming business.

Fine writing, good examples of what he's writing about, and a workbook style approach made Wiswall's book come alive for me.

I'd say he's written the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Organic Farmers, but there are at least ten habits farmers can learn about by reading this book.

And as someone who runs a small business, I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to succeed at building a business, growing a rich life for themselves and their community.

[...]
Loved the Tale of Two Brassicas where Wiswall tells how he learned the difference between growing kale and broccoli.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By One Straw on January 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Probably the most important book I'll read this year. Why? For Sustainable Farming to be TRULY Sustainable, farmers must be able to earn a living -- and that means healthcare, retirement funds, and college funds for the kids (those are costs of production too!). This book gives you the record keeping tools to get you there. Farming is a business - treat it like one. At least for an hour a week or so...

Wiswall has earned his title as the "Uber Bean Counter of Organic Farming". This is all the UN-sexy boring stuff about Organic Farming. But, if you want to move from gardening to farming, and by that I mean earning money and scaling up, then you NEED to read this book. Why? Because of the all books on organic farming I have read, Wiswall's is the only one that tells you the hard truths. YES a business plan is important. YES itemize your receipts. DO a cash flow analysis. The difference between the a successful organic farmer and an EX-organic farmer comes down to record keeping and their knowledge and comfort with the IRS's Schedule F form. Can you make a living --and you owe it to your family to include health benefits, retirement savings and a college fund in your profit planning- I will give it a qualified YES. OF course we all know it takes massive know how on the procedure side --how to grow things well with less input- but even more so on the business side. Gardening is a hobby, farming is a BUSINESS. Not the most fun book, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Start planning for profit, rather than making do with "what's left over".
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