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Sustainable Agriculture

Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises



Georgia's over $11 Billion agricultural economy is always changing, and today's trends are opening new opportunities for current ag producers as well as allow for people new to ag production an entrance into the market place. To help a constantly changing clientele with varying degrees of experience in business development, raising crops, animals, and other commodities, we have provided our Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises page as a source on developing your new farming venture or adapt your existing farm operation to meet new demands and opportunities. Having an understanding of your market and proper preparation are key to being successful in alternative agricultural enterprises. This page will help you gather the information necessary to make your farm business more successful. Production information specific to your operation may be found under our other program areas or on our resources page.

Identifying Resources and Markets:

Before entering into a new agricultural enterprise, you should first determine your available resources and skills that would make your enterprise successful. You should also conduct the research to ensure your potential market approach will provide for a sustainable business. Materials provided here are suggested as a first step in developing your agricultural enterprise.

Business Development Resources:

Loans and Alternative Enterprise Funding:

Government loans and grants are available for specific purposes related to funding sustainable agriculture projects and farm-based research. These funds are not "free money" for starting up a new farm venture or operating your existing farm, but are usually very specific in nature and typically involve partnership with cooperators such as non-profits or Cooperative Extension agents and university researchers.

Legal Requirements:

State regulations vary depending on the nature of your enterprise. The best way to ensure you are in compliance with state or federal rules is to contact the proper agencies directly.

Farm Safety and Efficiency:

Many aspects of farming are inherently dangerous and require a certain amount of respect so that injuries do not occur. Whether it be equipment usage, chemical and fuel handling, or handling livestock, farm safety should be a priority in your enterprise. Efficiency is also incredibly important in its contribution to profitability and quality of life for producers.

Farmers' Markets and Direct Marketing:

Farmers' markets and direct marketing are both related to one another. However, you can also market a product directly to consumers outside the setting of a farmers' market. Both farmers' markets and direct marketing require adequate planning to ensure a successful outcome. Below are a few resources to help you create or redesign your specific strategy. The UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development has provided support for several groups in developing farmers' markets and direct marketing strategies. Other materials are available on our resources page.

Other Alternative Enterprises:

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's)

The concept of Community supported agriculture began in Japan and Europe and was introduced to the U.S. in 1986. Becoming involved in a CSA can require a large amount of planning and investment in time and resources over the long term to ensure commitments to shareholders are met. CSA's continue to grow in Georgia, and these resources can help you develop a new CSA or join with an existing CSA.

Direct Market Livestock Production

Consumers are showing a growing interest in directly purchasing meat and other other livestock products from producers. This provides a valuable opportunity for livestock producers of various species to potentially increase the value of their product. A few specific materials are included here. Additional resources are available on the resources page under "Direct Marketing" and "Livestock and Forages."

AgriTourism Enterprises

Agritourism provides an additional source of income for farms and landowners and also provides additional opportunities to advertise and sell your products. Many farms in Georgia of various types already implement agritourism strategies that have proven successful.


Aquaculture is a valuable part of agriculture in Georgia and provides great opportunities for market development. Resources for developing your own aquaculture enterprise are provided below.