Basic QuickBooks and Accounting for Farmers and Food Producers

January – February

This workshop is full.

Punch up your QuickBooks skills in the new year with support from peers, professionals, and on-line tutorials.

This winter’s program on QuickBooks and basic farm accounting is a hybrid of self-directed learning, individual support, and remote classes with farm financial record keeping professionals. It is designed for farmers and local food producers who are either new to QuickBooks or need to improve their current recordkeeping practices.

For the months of January and February, participants will have access to the following:

  • The Farmer’s Office, an online source of accounting and QB videos and resources designed for farmers (usually $49/month access)
  • 6 Quickbooks classes that cover Chart of Accounts, Revenue and Expenses, Assets and Liabilities, the Balance Sheet, Reporting, and Recordkeeping Best Practices.
  • Office hours with Farmer’s Office author Julia Shanks to ask questions specific to your business
  • Eligible** attendees can receive additional 1×1 support in financial recordkeeping, planning or analysis upon attendance of at least 3 classes. This assistance is available until June 2022. See below for qualification information. 

Class Schedule:
Tuesdays, 9am-10:30am, January 11-February 15 (6 classes held over Zoom)

Support Office Hours:
TBA by December 15th


  • $50 for the Whole Series. Includes two month access to The Farmer’s Office.
  • We don’t want finances to be a barrier to participation and offer a sliding scale and scholarships to attend. Please contact for more information.

See class descriptions:

January 11th, 9am-10:30am: Chart of Accounts (Ellen Polishuk)
The Chart of Accounts is the foundation of your farm bookkeeping system. It is how we organize all the incomes, expenses, and various bank accounts. Getting this set up right will make a huge difference in how useful your books are for your business over time.

January 18th, 9am-10:30am: Revenue and Expenses (Ellen Polishuk)
These terms are familiar to you. Let’s get into the different ways that money comes into your business which has gotten pretty complicated in the last few years with the success of online marketing. Then we will visit the ways that money leaves your business: bills paid, payroll, credit card etc.

January 25th, 9am-10:30am: The Balance Sheet (Bonnie Collins)
Your balance sheet is a “snapshot” of your company at a point in time. It can communicate to the owner/operator and stakeholders the health of your business in one report. We will visit the structure of the balance sheet and the fundamental accounting equation as reflected in the QuickBooks software.

February 1, 9am-10:30am: Assets and Liabilities (Bonnie Collins)
Every business needs resources to acquire goods, produce products, and purchase equipment. Usually, we need to borrow capital to purchase those assets. Assets are those resources used to produce revenue and have a future economic benefit. Liabilities are the amount your business owes to other parties. We will learn how to categorize assets and liabilities into their main types.

February 8, 9am-10:30am: QuickBooks Reporting (Bonnie Collins)
The reporting for business should depict true and accurate financial information. Hence the goal of these reports is to provide a precise and detailed account of your business activity, upon which management decisions should be made. Let’s learn what type of reports and documents we can gather from QuickBooks to support our decision making.

February 15, 9am-10:30am: Recordkeeping Best Practices (Ellen Polishuk)
You’ve probably pledged each New Year to improve your farm records. But when the season gets hot and heavy, it all falls apart. Let’s talk about ways you can set up a rhythm and process that you can stick to.

Important Information:

Materials Needed

Participants must have QuickBooks (online or desktop) in order to participate in these classes. If you are planning to but have not purchased QuickBooks, reach out to CISA program coordinator Stevie Schafenacker for help identifying which setup is right for your business.   

**Qualifications for 1×1 support:
Cornell Small Farms Program and MA Buy Locals have grant funding to provide additional 1×1 consultations for QuickBooks and accounting support for qualifying businesses and individuals.
Available for:

  • Massachusetts Farmers
  • New York State Beginning Farmers
  • Massachusetts Specialty Food Producers that produce a value-added product where at least 50% of the ingredient’s volume, weight, or value come from local farms. 

About the Class Presenters:

Ellen Polishuk is a full-time farm consultant and workshop leader. She leverages her 35 years of biological vegetable farming experience to help growers around the country to achieve more satisfaction and better profitability from their farm businesses. Ellen was one of three owners of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Northern Virginia where she grew Ecoganic produce for 7 farmers markets, a 550 member CSA, and two roadside stands. She is a co-author of the book Start Your Farm and writes the farmer-to-farmer profile column for Growing For Market magazine. She lives in suburban Maryland with her husband, where she gardens like crazy.

Bonnie Collins has been with Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County, New York for the past 18 years, as the Farm Business Management Resource Educator and the Sr. Ag Program Team Leader. She is the Co-coordinator for Annie’s Project, a national program educating risk management to farm women. Bonnie has owned and operated a small accounting firm for the past 36 years. She has guided businesses in the development of a business to transitioning out of business. She lives in suburban New York with her husband, where they enjoy cooking and gardening.

About Julia Shanks and The Farmer’s Office

The Farmer’s Office is a self-paced, online course designed to give farmers the skills and tools needed to cultivate financially sustainable businesses.

Whether you struggle to understand the economics of your business, want to increase your farm’s profitability, or don’t even know where to begin, this course is for you! In each section, you will delve into specific business topics that will help you make informed decisions to maximize your farm’s profitability and understand your cash flow.

The Farmer’s Office is developed and taught by Julia Shanks. She brings a broad range of professional experience to her clients, from pilot to chef to serial entrepreneur. 

Each business is different — whether a farm, food producer or chef; and the support the businesses need to grow vary.  Julia draws on a variety of tools and methodologies to support her clients’ growth and success: from writing business plans and creating financial feasibility models to recipe development.  

With a mission of supporting a sustainable and just food system, Julia wrote The Farmer’s Office: Tools, Tips and Template for Successfully Managing a Growing Farm Business.  The book coaches farmers to think like entrepreneurs so they can build a financially sustainable business. The Farmers Market Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Fresh, Local, Seasonal Produce, co-authored with Brett Grohsgal and cited as a reference in Michelle Obama’s American Grown, highlights the joys of local produce; and helps consumers make the most of local farmers’ bounties.

Julia received her professional training as a chef at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, her BA from Hampshire College and an MBA, Magna Cum Laude in Entrepreneurship, from Babson College. She is a QuickBooks certified Pro Advisor.

Funding for this series was made possible by the following grants and programs: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grants AM200100XXXXG178 and AM190100XXXG150 and USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2020-70017-32420, Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation Small Business Assistance Grant Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County and the CISA Local Hero Program. 

Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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