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Farm to School for Producers: Business Management

By working with Minnesota school districts, farmers have the opportunity to help improve the health and education of Minnesota school children.


School districts need food that is easy to prepare, healthy, nutritious, and appeals to students. Schools serve a wide variety of local produce, grains, beans, dairy and meats. Here are the Top Ten Most Popular Local Fruits and Vegetables (6 MB PDF) purchased by Minnesota schools.

Get connected to your school buyers. List your farm business on one or more of the online databases below:

Minnesota Grown Wholesale Directory — Market your products to schools and other organizations. This database is free to Minnesota Grown members. Not a member? Join today for this benefit and more.

Local Foods Partnership — A searchable database through University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. It includes a wide range of food products.

Stewardship Farm Directory — A list of Land Stewardship Project members who sell food and other farm products directly to consumers or through local retailers.


Agricultural BusinessUniversity of Minnesota Extension — Producers face uncertain markets and narrow margins. Our programs, software, and tools teach producers and professionals about: risk management, marketing plans, transferring the business to the next generation, and agricultural policy questions.

Marketing Local FoodsMinnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture — This handbook helps Minnesota farmers explore the various options for marketing local food. It introduces the basics of different marketing systems, suggests resources and includes profiles of farmers who are selling farm products to school food service, farmers markets, roadside stands, and CSAs.

Building a Sustainable BusinessMinnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture — A guide to developing a business plan for farms and rural businesses.

AgPlanUniversity of Minnesota — This website helps rural business owners develop a business plan. Everyone can use AgPlan for free!


Small FarmsUniversity of Minnesota Extension — Minnesota has seen a sharp rise in small farms. To serve these farmers, the Small Farms team provides education in crop and livestock production, natural resources conservation, and business management to enhance the sustainability of Minnesota's small farms.

On Farm GAPS Education ProgramUniversity of Minnesota Extension — This On-farm GAPs Education Program works with Minnesota’s produce farmers to help them develop and implement on-farm food safety plans and prepare for GAPs audits.

Small Horticultural Farm ResourcesUniversity of Minnesota — This site is intended to provide information and resources for commercial growers of horticultural (primarily fruit and vegetable) crops in the Upper Midwest.

Organic EcologyUniversity of Minnesota — This program serves producers, ag professionals, lenders, educators, students, researchers, health care providers, policy makers, consumers, and members of the general public who are interested in organic agricultural and ecological science.

Fruit & Vegetable Production BudgetsIowa State University — An enterprise budget is an estimate of the costs and returns to produce a product (enterprise). Vegetable growers that may have 35 - 40 different products may wish to develop budgets on their key products (those products that contribute the most to the attainment of producer goals).

Vegetable Integrated Pest Management (IPM)University of Minnesota — The purpose of this site is to provide timely, objective information about all aspects of vegetable crop integrated pest management (IPM), with particular focus on insect pest management in the Midwestern U.S.

Minnesota High Tunnel Production Manual for Commercial GrowersUniversity of Minnesota Extension

Nutrient Management for Commercial Fruit & Vegetable Crops in MinnesotaUniversity of Minnesota Extension

Minnesota Guide to Organic CertificationUniversity of Minnesota Extension

Grazing Systems Planning GuideUniversity of Minnesota Extension

Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Selling, Post Harvest Handling, and Packing — This manual builds capacity of fruit and vegetable farmers across the nation to meet the burgeoning demand for local food. It includes sections on Building Relationships with Buyers, Calculating Return in Investment, Food Safety and contains 103 crop profiles that give specific harvesting, cooling, storage, and packing information on most of the fruits and vegetables grown across the country.

Grower's Manual: A Template for Grower CooperativesLeopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture — This grower's manual serves as a model to cooperative and regional food systems groups. It is a guide to help establish standards for pre- and post-harvest practices and the product specifications used with local foodservice establishments. The manual calls for science-based best practices that comply with current regulations for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP).


Tips, Tools and Guidelines for Food Distribution and Food Safety — Oklahoma Farm to School — The main goal of this publication is to help ease the distribution barriers existing within Farm to School. Includes a produce calculator to convert pounds into school meal servings, a distribution cost template, food safety checklist, and sample Memorandum of Understanding between farmers and schools.

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