Two people stand looking at a clipboard in front of shelves of plants

Image credit: (c) UMD AGNR Image Database

Updated: May 2, 2024
By Ginger S. Myers

By Ginger Myers, Evermore Farm and retired UMD Extension Agricultural Marketing Specialist

This article is part 1 of a 4-part series. Links to the rest of the series will be added as they are posted monthly in 2024. Part 2. 


For any start-up business venture or new learning challenges there are four “ships” in the road map to success: mentorship, relationships, partnerships, and ownership. 

These don’t negate traditional business planning or peer-learning opportunities but they may accelerate an entrepreneur’s business growth trajectory from “dream, plan and implement” to a profitable, sustainable and satisfying business.



Passion and persistence are two key traits for beginning farmers. Early on you may find yourself purchasing books, reading newsletters, joining associations, attending conferences and listening to podcast that discuss your 'farming dream". These are excellent resources to explore, but they only give you a window to see into the operation. 

You need someone with experience and a willingness to share their hard-earned knowledge to unlock the door and then help you navigate and apply the information and techniques inside the business itself. Your farming success would benefit greatly from having a mentor. Mentorship is a learning experience that helps people grow, develop and achieve their goals. 

Effective mentors have several sound, teaching attributes:

      1. They are able and willing to share what they know.

      2. They are prepared to evaluate your situation and develop strategies based on your particular needs.

      3. They are approachable, available and have the skill sets you hope to emulate.

      4. They can be honest yet diplomatic in their feedback.

      5. They are objective and fair.  A mentoring relationship differs from a friendship. They care about you and want you to succeed but that doesn't mean you need to socialize or that you owe them any favors.

A mentor can save you countless hours and considerable money by showing you  what you don't know" as a beginning farmer and answers to the questions you may not have known to ask. They want you to be successful but you still need to do "the work".

In Maryland, there are several organizations that offer mentoring programs. Some programs match a new farmer with a more experienced farmer. Some programs match a new farmer with a non-farming business development coach. Different kinds of mentors can help you with different topics. These include: