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Exploring Your Small Farm Dream: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You?

Course Description  •  Who Should Attend  • Next Course •  Financial AssistanceTestimonialsInstructor •  Video • Contact

Please read the information on this page carefully before contacting MFM as some of your questions may be answered below. Thanks! Smile 

Course Sponsor

Manitoba Farm Mentorship (MFM), a program of the Organic Food Council of Manitoba, has the vision of a just, productive and stable agricultural system that supplies everyone with affordable, exciting and nutritious food.

Developed by the New England Small Farm Institute, Exploring Your Small Farm Dream is a highly regarded business short course that has been offered in many States as well as Ontario, and now MFM is proud to be the sponsor organization in Manitoba!


Course Description

Over 18 hours (6 – 3 hour evening sessions), Exploring Your Small Farm Dream will help you answer the important question: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for Me? The aim of the course is to help those thinking about small-scale commercial farming (farming as a business with intent to make a profit, rather than as a hobby or a pastime) learn what it will take to start and manage a farm business, and decide whether it is something you really want to pursue. As a participant, the Explorer course takes a learner-centered approach to exploring agriculture as a career. You will be guided through an in depth self-assessment process, designed to help you identify the specific aptitudes, interests, skills and resources that you can bring to your new farm business. You will receive support through the process of researching opportunities in agriculture. And you will meet other serious gardeners, livestock enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs who are also asking themselves, “Is starting an agricultural business right for me?”



Who Should Attend

If you are:

  • thinking about full-time farming,
  • thinking about farming part-time while continuing other employment,
  • changing your career and thinking about farming,
  • thinking about taking over an existing family farm business,
  • thinking about developing an existing but informal agricultural pastime into a more serious business activity, and/or
  • an established farmer re-strategizing your business,

then Exploring Your Small Farm Dream is the ideal learning and networking opportunity for you!  

The course will enable participants to:

  • set personal and farming goals,
  • assess available resources,
  • determine if farming as a business is a good fit for them,
  • develop an action plan to guide next steps.

Along the way participants will take a close look at the realities of working for themselves, in particular what it will take to own and manage a successful agricultural venture. This course is not about developing a farm plan or business plan. It's about answering the very important question: Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right For Me? All applications will be vetted to make sure this course is a good fit for you.


Due to feedback from our first course, the course has been extended by two extra classes!


Next Course Information


Winnipeg: Wednesdays Feb 2, 9, 16, Mar 2, 9, 16, 6:30 - 9:30pm


Cost: $300+GST or $500+GST for two people from the same farm dream
Deadline for applications: January 16th, 2011 


Maximum 20 small farm dreams or 30 people. Applications will be read in the order they are received and vetted to make sure you are a fit for the course. If you are eligible to take the course, you will be notified and then once your payment is received your spot will be secured. 

Maximum 2 people from the same farm dream.


Winnipeg application form - 1 person   464kb .pdf file (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like the Word document, please specify if you need it as a .doc file)

Winnipeg application form - 2 people   488kb .pdf file (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like the Word document, please specify if you need it as a .doc file)


Please read carefully our Event Waiver and Cancellation Policy.

poster web Help us promote this course! Download letter-sized poster (2.3MB) and/or 11x17" poster (2.3MB) and post in your area. Thanks!



Possible Financial Assistance

You may be eligible for tuition reimbursement by Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives through their Agri-Excellence program by creating an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) for your future agricultural education. Click here to find your nearest MAFRI GO Team Office and ask the Extention Coordinator to help you through the first step.

There are scholarships available from MFM for those who can demonstrate real financial need and do not qualify for the MAFRI Agri-Excellence program.

Deadline for scholarship application is January 11, 2011 for the Winnipeg course.

Winnipeg scholarship application form  541kb .pdf file (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like the Word document)


What past participants from Manitoba are saying about the Exploring Your Small Farm Dream course:


“The worksheets were the most important because you don’t even know what you don’t know!”


“Thank you! Very high quality instruction, very important opportunity.”


“The structure of the worksheets led me through a wide selection of thoughts in an orderly fashion. Having someone like Clint who has transformed to “alternative” farming adds a lot of credibility to the course.”

"Talking about/learning about/asking about the nitty-gritty, the details, the practical concerns & considerations with diverse folks excited about and committed to the course and learning with it; generating more energy, confidence, & momentum!"

last explorer class 4Jan-Feb 2010 Explorer Grads 


Our course instructor is Clint Cavers, co-owner/operator of Harborside Farms near Pilot Mound, MB. Clint, his wife Pamela, and their three daughters operate a 200 acre livestock farm and direct marketing business.  The family draws on many sources of knowledge, incorporating holistic management as well as organic, and biodynamic farming principles to their farm. They sell grass fed beef, pastured pork, pastured poultry and eggs.  This year they are experimenting with ducks, rabbits and bees. The Cavers have an on-farm meat store where all of their animals are processed and from where they are marketed. Along with traditional cuts of meat, this farming operation produces deli meats, sausages, hot dogs, beef jerky, (all nitrate-free, using their own original recipes) and let’s not forget the doggy treats produced by two of his daughters! In 1997 Clint and his family started thinking about making the transition from being debt-ridden conventional farmers to a successful diversified small scale natural operation, so he knows first-hand some of the challenges (and the rewards) of both types of farming. He’s also had to explore his own small farm dream!

Clint is very committed to the principles of small, sustainable farming, and the education and outreach required to help new farmers find their way. He is involved with the Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative, Harvest Moon Society, and Manitoba Farm Mentorship.


Here is a video from Session 1, January 2010, where Clint is discussing Quality of Life, which participants learned is a huge topic that needs a lot of thought! {youtube}4C4vjYLEvUc{/youtube}


Growing Forward

Funding for these workshops was provided by the Canada and Manitoba governments through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.


For more information about the course, or for help filling in any of the forms, please contact Sheri, our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 204.239.7170


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Thank you Marnie and team for your continuing support of organics in MB. Thank you for your recent gift to Dr. Marten Entz & the Natural Systems Agriculture program, celebrating 25 years of organic research in Manitoba!

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