Entrepreneurial farm families and their success stories

A lot can be learned from farm families who have an entrepreneurial spirit and a successful value added venture. Many share common traits that enable them to be successful even though each has their own unique story.

Many farm families have dreams of value added enterprises that might be feasible to launch as a part of their farm operation. A few step out and turn their dreams into reality. If you are considering taking that step, it is wise to listen to others who have successfully started new value added enterprises. It is also important to analyze your resources, abilities, passion, time and knowledge.

There are numerous unique stories of how farm families solved a problem or saw an opportunity and took action. That action led them on exciting entrepreneurial journeys that they usually are willing to share. Take some time to visit with successful value added farm operators. Find out their motivation, the barriers they had to overcome, the amount of time and effort it took, the marketing opportunities and challenges they encountered and how it has affected their overall operation and family.

If you don’t know any farmers involved in value added ventures, or even if you do and want to learn more, you have an opportunity to visit successful practitioners and hear their stories on a two-day entrepreneurial farm tour to northeast Michigan in the Alpena, Mich., area. The tour will take place on Sept. 17-18, 2013, and  will highlight an hydroponic greenhouse, pastured beef and poultry, fruit production, hoop houses, CSAs, farm markets, agri-entertainment, incubator kitchen, gluten free food production, lumber mill, maple syrup, cider mill, organic vegetables, small diversified operations, lime quarry, cranberry production and much more.

Register online. The participant cost is $75. For more details about this tour, contact Dan Rossman at Michigan State University Extension’s Gratiot County office at 989-875-5233 or rossman@anr.msu.edu. The tour is partially funded by North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), Herbrucks Poultry Ranch and SunOpta Grains & Foods.

Do you have an idea currently that you want to explore to add more profit to your farm operation? Whether you want to add value or a new enterprise, take note that the MSU Product Center has trained innovation counselors that are located in MSU Extension offices across the state to assist you. To start the process, go to the Product Center website at www.productcenter.msu.edu and fill out an application for assistance or call any of the staff or counselors that are listed there. You can call the MSU Product Center directly at 517-432-8750.

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