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What is Whole Farm Planning?

Most farmers do some kind of planning on their farms nearly every day. Whole Farm Planning is distinct from other farm planning approaches because it ties all the planning you do together for the whole farm. This holistic approach is based on the short and long-term vision you and your family has for itself and the farm. Following the whole farm planning process actively helps beginning farmers tailor farming goals and actions over time to best fit needs and preferences for long-term viability.


The whole farm plan is much more than a plan – it is a process for short-term and long-term decision making and evaluation that takes into consideration of the whole farm. The below diagram illustrates the dynamic whole farm planning process:

From the Introduction to Whole Farm Planning Module -- The Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project (2011).


What are the benefits of the Whole Farm Planning?

Beginning farmers who use a Whole Farm Planning approach to farm start-up are in a good position to maintain or improve profitability while enhancing their sustainability. Whole Farm Planning can also lead to protection and enhancement of the quality of soil, water, and other natural resources on and near the farm. More importantly, the planning process helps beginning farmers define long and short term goals. These goals can help you improve your chances of a better quality of life at home and in your community.


More Information on Virginia Whole Farm Planning

Click here to go back to the Whole Farm Planning page

Click here to learn more about the VBFRC Whole Farm Planning Curriculum


The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition is a state-wide and coalition-based Extension program, housed in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. Funding was sponsored by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Award #2020-49400-32326. For more information about the program, contact Katie Trozzo, Program Coordinator, at vabeginningfarmer@vt.edu or 540-231-4582. For other questions, contact Kim Niewolny, Program Director, at niewolny@vt.edu.

For website updates, such as broken links, please contact vabeginningfarmer@vt.edu