I think that the most overwhelming part of starting a project like this is know where to begin. What do I do? Who do I contact? Do I need insurance or a tax ID? When and what do I begin planting? So many questions flood your mind that it can seem an unmanageable task... but it isn't and you are not alone. Plenty of people around the world are doing this and have been doing this for years and there are valuable resources everywhere... the trick is knowing where to look.
So here are a few that have helped me: The Maryland Extention Program is a free program offered by the University of Maryland. They have a website Extension site that is full of information including videos of master gardeners giving tutorials on a multitude of gardening techniques. Where I live, they offer free, hands-on classes for anyone interested. I'm blown away by how accessable this resource is. Colby, one of the Ag fellas has called me on several occasions just to let me know about a class, an expo, or a seminar taking place in my area that he thought would benefit me. I would have totally missed out on these things if it were'nt for his efforts and that kind of thing blows me away. There really is alot of help for anyone trying to get started in farming.
Community is another valuable recourse... so valuable! This sort of thing can't happen without an informed and committed citizenry. It really can't happen any other way.I've found that some of the people in my community, the Nola regulars, have been so excited to share information, books, tools, anything that they feel might help. I have a large amount of people now, on a daily basis, asking me how the farm is coming along. Everyone seems to think that this is a good idea too, and those who don't understand why farming is important have the opportunity to learn from us.
Books are an amazing resource when approaching something on this scale. Any book by Michael Pollan is important for you as well as the people you want to sell to. His books are really centered around the problems inherent in our current food system and are essential reads in order to encourage your customers to jump on board with this whole idea of small-scale farming. Another few books in that category are "Smallmart Revolution" which discusses the need for community-based economics, "Seeds of Deception" which discusses genetic modification and corporate ownership of seeds, "Five Acres and Independence" this is a how-to guide to living as off the grid and as self-sustainable as possible. These books are really great, easy reads, full of insight and helpful information. I also find reference and how-to books to be very helpful. I've mentioned the Vegetable Gardeners Bible in a couple other posts. It's a great resource. I also found an old paper-back from the 70's called "Grow More Vegetables than you thought possible of less land than you can imagine." I don't know where its from and I'm sure it's out of print but it talks about a method of gardening called Biodinamic French Intensive. It mostly deals with deep, wide beds and planting according to lunar cycles. It's a cool old book and I referenced it for my companion planting this season.
Asside from these, there are endless references and resources out there. Just look into it. Local farmers in your area are usually willing to talk about farming. In fact they love to talk about it. Try contacting them directly.
Till next time