Funding Sources to Start Herb Farm in Oregon
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: JSO
Posted on: August 27, 2004

I am a woman, disabled, former State employee, wanting to start a small herb farm. I already have a preapproved loan for a portion of my project, and looking for grant money to fund the rest. My business plan is in place, and I have been searching for grants on all of the applicable web sites (woman, entrepreneur, disabled, rural development, etc.) Do you know of any resources for me?

Not less than two months ago, I was asked this very same question. So, I did a bit of cut-and-paste for your more personal response. I recommend you check Richters site more carefully, as all of these responses are posted for other with similar questions. Isn’t your diability going to also limit what you can do on the farm?

Before you can even think toward a grant to fund a new operation, consider your need to show experience in managing the grant (being able to actually make it work). With no background in agriculture, most won’t feel secure in funding a research start-up. That’s why an on-going farm is preferred, and with experience. I got several grants for new farmers in California because they were displaced workers (Spotted Owl), and needed to be retrained.

Grants are usually called "Yuppie Welfare," and are task specific. That means you have an on-going series of farm projects, and you may need some money to experiment with one of them. Research. Most grants are small, usually in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. SARE, or regional grants from USDA are written in specific formats, as most grants require.

There are also larger grants for basic research and to further a given industry in agriculture. ISDA has an SBIR grant for $50,000 for Phase One. If the grant is successful, a second phase of $250,000 is given to match private industry participation for merger. That is called Phase 3. Those are very difficult and most given to universities and experienced researchers.

To give an example, I had three given to me over a seven-year period. I was lucky, and my field in herbs was new. They included a processing center for herbs and spices (, preserving salal for a value added product, and a forest-farming project, to include a BBC for networking. They always seem to manage to fund them at weird times of the year, not congruent with normal agriculture. I also wrote one for another party on a flower head harvester for chamomile.

Then there are also a number of private sources for grants. These would include Bullet Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and Northwest Area Foundation. All would be centralized around growth in new forms of agriculture.

When I did the Trinity Alps Botanicals, I wrote four State of California grants to help develop agriculture in a region affected by Spotted Owl. Those were three-page executive summaries, with the following format:

Northwest Economic Adjustment Initiative

Proposal Summary


1. Applicant: _____________________________________

2. Contact: ______________________________________ name

______________________________________ address

______________________________________ city, state, zip

______________________________________ phone #

3. Project Title: _______________________________________________

4. Project type (check all that apply)

_____ business & industry

_____ community & infrastructure

_____ workers and families

_____ ecosystem enhancement

5. Project located in what geographical area: ________________________

6. Project Description: (use space provided)

7. Qualification or experience with similar projects:

8. Explain how this project is important to the community:

9. What efforts have your community/agency taken to date regarding this project (use space provided):

10. What are the anticipated benefits of this project in terms of job creation, development of business and industry, assistance to dislocated workers and their families and the improvement of public facilities in your community:

11. What buildings and/or equipment will be necessary to accomplish this project:

12. How many and what types of jobs do you expect to create with this project:

Number of Short Term Jobs _________________________

Number of Permanent Jobs _________________________

Types of Jobs (clerk, laborer, )

Proposed Wage

__________________________ _________________

__________________________ _________________

__________________________ _________________

13. Will other groups, agencies or individuals by contributing time, money, equipment or other necessary to make this project a success? Please explain

14. Time frame to complete the project:

15. Proposed budget for Project:

Wages $

Materials $

Supplies $

Equipment $

Contract Services $

Other* $ ____________ *Please describe


16. Are there any other factors significant to this project we should be aware of?

Most executive summaries are the center of most grants. I used this for whatever I choose to do, to include business plans, farm plans, and just about anything you want to spend money toward. It is basically one page, and contains the following information:




Time Factor:

Anticipated Costs:

Anticipated Incomes:

Anticipated Volumes (Wholesale):

Potential Markets:

To begin your venture, you should read my PDF download "Getting Started," at And, also read my book "The Potential Of Herbs As A Cash Crop". Then visit my website at, and read everything posted. Then read Richters Q/A section on Commercial Cultivation Questions. Then call me with your questions.

Other resources worth looking at are "Wildcrafting Native Plants of Commercial Importance", "Forest Farming with Native Plants of Commercial Importance", "A Centralized Processing Facility for Botanical Cash Crops", "Small Farm Demonstration with Alternative Cash Crops", and "’Line-of-Credit’ for Non-Profit Co-Operative".

My office is (541) 476-5588, and I am available to help develop a business plan for your new venture in agriculture. I also have a list of services at

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