Starting a farm or nursery makes an ideal career for someone who likes to work outdoors and enjoys nature. With the rising popularity of organic farming, farm and nursery start-ups have become more common. Finding funding for starting a farm or nursery may not be easy, but multiple organizations offer opportunities to make the process easier and less expensive for individuals interested in making farming their new career.
Farms and nurseries are considered small businesses and, therefore, eligible for loans through the Small Business Administration, which works with banks and other lenders to provide loans to small business owners. Farmers will have the best luck contacting a rural bank or credit union that works as part of the SBA Rural Lender Advantage Initiative. The initiative offers a simpler application process and guarantees approval on 85 percent of loans less than $150,000.
Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency provides loans to family farmers who cannot obtain a loan through a commercial lender. Loans may be used to purchase land, equipment, seeds and other supplies. Farm and nursery start ups should apply for loans through the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers loan program. Loans come in amounts from $300,000 to $1,119,000 and require a 5-percent down payment. Interested farmers should apply for the loan through their local Farm Service Agency county office.
Grants encourage farmers and nursery owners to conduct research related to organic and green farming. The Horticultural Research Institute's Competitive Grants Program provides funds to help nursery owners grow and market perennials and woody ornamental plants. These grants may also help potential nursery owners start a business. Grant applications are due annually in May. The Organic Farming Research Foundation regularly accepts research proposals related to organic farming. Grant proposals must not exceed $15,000, and funds are awarded twice a year.
Sustainable Agriculture Grants, through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education division of the United States Department of Agriculture, provide funds to farmers and producers to conduct research related to increasing profitability and production in agriculture. Farm and nursery start-ups focusing on sustainable agriculture and agricultural education may apply for grants through one of SARE's four regional offices. Grants are awarded in amounts up to $15,000.