Between late September and early November eighteen farmers participated in a Whole Farm Business Plan Challenge.  The Challenge was offered by Appalachian Sustainable Development with support from the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition, BB&T, and Wells Fargo.  The farmers that participated are farming in far southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee.  Many of them are beginning farmers who have either just started farming in the last couple years, have been working on other people’s farms and just starting their own, or whose families have farmed for generations and they are taking the farm in new directions.  The winners of the three awards offered include: Camille Cody, Richard Calkins, and Denise Peterson.

These farmers watched six webinars to learn more about business planning, financial needs assessment, forms of incorporation, record keeping, and other business related topics.  These webinars have been archived and are available for viewing on the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition website at

Camille is currently managing someone else’s farm, but submitted a plan for Taproot Farm which she hopes to be operating in the near future.  Taproot Farm will be a Certified Naturally Grown small scale diversified produce farm focusing on using sustainable methods of cultivation and production.  Her mission is to grow a diverse array of nutrient-rich, high-quality produce in as sustainable a manner as possible and to connect with a variety of local customers in order to build and enhance a local food system.

Richard started Harbin Hill Farms in Mountain City last year.  His vision is to develop a financially successful and environmentally sustainable intensive market farming operation based on an integrated production model involving an apiary, organic produce and free range poultry.  He wants his farm to be a progressive agricultural enterprise, one that combines the powers of nature with the best available technology to deliver the highest quality products to his customers.

Denise Peterson has been operating Blue Door Garden for 15 years in Abingdon.  Blue Door will become her full time endeavor where they aim to offer the best full-service, locally-grown floral services to discerning customers in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee by growing the freshest blooms using earth-friendly, organic practices and by providing personalized service in the harvest, design and installation of stunning floral arrangements.

Appalachian Sustainable Development provides workshops like the Whole Farm Business Plan Challenge webinars to assist farmers and ranchers in developing sound business plans.  If you’d like support in writing a business plan, please complete the quick survey at this link to let us know you’d like us to support your farm enterprise  In supporting area food farmers growing for local markets, we hope to help them build a thriving local food system with the infrastructure and technical support they need to be successful.