Profitable Small Farms

Profitable Small Farms combines hands-on learning and classroom teaching to develop the skills to start a small farm. The program has a dual focus on the technical skills to produce food sustainably with minimal negative environmental impacts and the entrepreneurial skills to develop and manage a community-based agricultural business. The program starts in the fall and continues through the summer for students to experience a full year of small farm management. The program is suitable for students starting their college education and students who already possess a higher education degree.

The Profitable Small Farms program is designed to provide students with the know-how to first develop and then successfully sustain a small farm. Students take a variety of courses in technical subjects and spent significant time on the farm and on field trips. Higher level courses build on those earlier in the program. Project-based entrepreneurial courses prepare students for the real world and provide strategies and documents for the students’ immediate use upon graduating from the program.

Throughout the program students practice growing food crops and manage small animals on the LBCC student organic farm. Farm-direct marketing is experienced by managing the college CSA (community supported agriculture) program, and selling to the campus restaurants and to students and staff at the college farmers’ market. The program maintains strong ties with the local farming community, food businesses, and university extension service, which helps students in internship and job placement.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete a one-year certificate in Profitable Small Farms will:

  • Be prepared to start a small farm by choosing appropriate farm management approaches including crop and livestock selection and product marketing suitable to the local physical and economic environment.
  • Be able to develop creative solutions to production, marketing, financial, and labor issues in order to sustain a small farm.
  • Understand the functioning of community food systems and be prepared to work for an organization that works on food system topics.

Program Requirements

Students must have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate. They must also possess good basic math and reading skills, demonstrate some physical stamina and be able to work cooperatively with others. Permission from the program chair is required to start the program in any term other than fall.


Instructional facilities, including greenhouses, laboratories, an organic farm, ornamental gardens, and the campus grounds, are used for skill building and demonstrations.