It’s Not True Love if They Ask for Money

Article from FTC website, by Cristina Miranda; Division of Consumer and Business Education

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Lots of people have profiles on online dating sites, apps or social media to find “the one.” But that interesting person who just messaged you could be a sweet-talking romance scammer trying to trick you into sending money.

Reports of romance scams are growing, and costing people a lot of cash. According to new FTC data, the number of romance scams people report to the FTC has nearly tripled since 2015. Even more, the total amount of money people reported losing in 2019 is six times higher than it was five years ago – from $33 million lost to romance scammers in 2015 to $201 million in 2019. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC.

In a sea of online profiles, romance scammers can be hard to detect. But, there are signs you can look out for. Romance scammers start by using someone else’s identity to create fake profiles. They’ll send you flattering messages to make a special connection, say all the right things, and gain your trust. They might claim to be a doctor, a servicemember, or an oil rig worker living overseas. They want to make future plans with you. But then, something comes up and they ask you for money to help them out. Which nearly always means asking you to buy gift cards (and give them the PIN, so they get the cash), or wiring them money.

Here’s the thing: Never send money or gifts to a love interest you haven’t actually met. It’s a romance scam.

  • Stop communicating with the person immediately.
  • Search online for the type of job the person says they have. See if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. If it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.
  • Never wire money to a stranger, or pay anyone with gift cards. If someone asks you to wire money or pay with gift cards, report it to the FTC at

For more information, read What You Need to Know About Romance Scams. And check out this video.

F&M Bank to Participate in Scholarship Program

During March, Virginia high school seniors will have the opportunity to spend the day shadowing bankers at F&M Bank as part of Bank Day, a statewide effort sponsored by the Virginia Bankers Association (VBA) Education Foundation and the VBA Emerging Bank Leaders. The purpose of the day is to expose students to the banking industry and provide an opportunity for the students to learn about banking, financial services and the vital role F&M Bank plays in its community.

The third Tuesday in March was declared Bank Day by the Virginia General Assembly in 1991 and F&M Bank is proud to host students for this important program.  From their experience, participating students will write an essay for the chance to win a scholarship. Six regional scholarships of $2,500 each will be awarded, and from those six winners an overall statewide winner will be chosen. The statewide winner will receive an additional $5,000 scholarship – $7,500 in total. There will also be six honorable mention scholarships of $1,000 each. In all, twelve students will receive scholarships totaling $26,000.

During their visit, students will visit with various bank departments; learn about the banking process, the importance of good credit, the profile of a qualified borrower, appropriate etiquette during a job interview, how F&M Bank is involved in the community and more!

“Bank Day is one of the best short-term, hands-on experiences that a classroom teacher can offer their students—the opportunity to go inside the bank vault, to watch customer/bank officer interaction, to learn about the many services that banks offer, and to start the networking that often leads to part-time and summer jobs, scholarships, and a start on a career path in the financial world,” said Bruce Whitehurst, president & CEO of the Virginia Bankers Association.

F&M Bank will offer three different locations/dates for bank day shadowing:

  • March 12th –  F&M Bank Timberville, 205 S Main Street
  • March 17th – F&M Bank Harrisonburg, 80 Cross Keys Road
  • March 19th – F&M Bank Staunton, 30 Gosnell Crossing

If interested in signing up for the program, click here.

For more information, please contact Kelsey Dean, Marketing Specialist, at or 540-217-6410.

Tax Season Is Also Theft Season

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security Number, to file a tax return claiming your refund. According to the IRS, reversing the damage caused by tax related identity theft can be a frustrating and complex process for victims. In addition, scammers will use tax season as an opportunity to commit fraud, pretending to be the IRS, and asking consumers for cash, or asking consumers to convert cash to gift cards which is an easy way to transmit cash without the possibility of detection when the card is used. Protecting your identity is critical year-round but especially important during the busy tax season.

It’s important to protect yourself and prevent instances of tax related crimes. Give yourself a fighting chance and learn the best way to stay protected from the devastating effects of tax-related identity theft.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), some examples of scams this tax season are:

Robocalls – Scammers use computers to dial thousands of phone numbers, pretending they’re calling from the IRS, hoping to find victims who respond to their threatening statements. These criminals claim you owe taxes and demand that you pay immediately, usually with a gift card or prepaid debit card. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via phone.

IRS Imposters – These are the scammers who send out emails, pretending they are from the IRS. The imposters may use part of your real identity to convince you that their claim is valid. They will tell you that you owe taxes and demand that you pay up or face prosecution. Or they will ask you to verify that you have paid your taxes, asking for personal information and bank account numbers to obtain data that can be used later to commit identity theft.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

Refund Thieves – Criminals will gather or purchase your stolen personal information, create a bogus tax return and file the return with the IRS, claiming your refund. When you then file your legitimate return by mail, the IRS will send you a notice or letter saying that more than one return was filed for you. If you try to e-file, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing. In either case, you are left with the difficult task of convincing the IRS that it wasn’t you that filed the return and received the refund the first time.

If tax fraud or any other identity theft strikes you are not alone. F&M Bank is here to help. Identity Theft Protection services are provided free with our Cash Back and Cash Rewards checking accounts, or options are available for purchase.

F&M Bank’s 2020 Community Shred Day Events

One in 14 will become a victim of identity theft. Protect your identity by safely disposing of personal documents at our Community Shred Days at a location near you.

Crossroads (Harrisonburg)
Friday, April 17th, 3:00-5:00pm

Stuarts Draft
Friday, April 24th, 3:00-5:00pm

Saturday, May 2nd, 10:00-12:00pm

Friday, May 8th, 3:00-5:00pm

Saturday, May 16th, 10:00-12:00pm

Friday, June 5th, 3:00-5:00pm

Friday, June 12th, 3:00-5:00pm

North Augusta (Staunton)
Friday, June 19th, 3:00-5:00pm

Myers Corner (Staunton)
Friday, September 4th, 3:00-5:00pm

Saturday, September 12th, 10:00-12:00pm

Coffman’s Corner (Harrisonburg)
Friday, September 18th, 3:00-5:00pm

Saturday, September 26th, 10:00-12:00pm

Friday, October 9th, 3:00-5:00pm​​

Learn more about F&M Bank’s Identity Theft Protection Service, provided free with Cash Back and Cash Rewards Checking.

F&M Bank: A Virginia Tradition Since 1908

Photo of Mark Hanna, President and CEO

An interview with Mark Hanna, President and CEO of F & M Bank Corp

Interview conducted by:
Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive, CEOCFO Magazine
Published – December 9, 2019
Re-published with permission

CEOCFO: Mr. Hanna, would you tell us about your role at F & M Bank Corp. and how it developed to where you are today as President and CEO?

Mr. Hanna: I joined the bank roughly two years ago on December 1st, 2017. The former CEO Dean Withers had announced his retirement and a search for his replacement was underway. At the time, I was in banking in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I had long worked with big banks and served as President and CEO of a de novo community bank, founded in 2005, that sold to another bank in 2014. After a period of working for the bank that had acquired my former company, I decided it was time for me to pursue some personal and career goals.

I knew Dean through a couple of banking organizations, so I reached out to him and expressed my interest in the opportunity. The board brought me in to interview along with several other candidates, and ultimately offered me the job. Dean stayed onboard for the first six months to help me through the transition. We had, and still do have, a close working relationship as he remains on F&M Bank’s board and is currently serving as our vice chair. Since then, the Leadership team and I have been working hard to guide and direct an organization that has 111 years of history for continued success in a dynamic banking environment.  

CEOCFO: Would you give us a little background and history of the bank and how it developed from its founding? Has the vision changed much from its founding vision?

Mr. Hanna: We go by F&M now; it originally started as Farmers & Merchants in 1908 in Timberville, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, to serve farmers and merchants in the immediate area. Where I sit today is less than a mile away from our original headquarters. We are in Rockingham County, Virginia which is the largest agricultural county in the commonwealth of Virginia. There is still a strong agricultural base in this area, but the community has grown and evolved over the years. Harrisonburg, one of the faster growing communities in the commonwealth, is less than fifteen miles away from Timberville. Harrisonburg is home to James Madison University, which has an undergraduate enrolment of almost 25,000 students and is one of the stronger economic centers of our community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

CEOCFO: Has the vision changed much from its founding vision?

Mr. Hanna: Yes, it has evolved but also remains very much the same. We are still here to serve the needs of the community and we bank small to midsized businesses that include agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, commercial real estate development, and residential real estate development and more. We also provide personal banking products for individuals, ranging from deposit accounts to home equity lines to any credit needs they may have. Over time we have developed an indirect dealer division for auto loans and a mortgage company – F&M Mortgage – for consumer mortgage loans. The bank itself has a strong portfolio of customized personal mortgage loans. It is a very popular product around here given that there are a lot of non-conforming properties such as larger tracts of land or family farms. We aim to provide the deposit, investment and loan products and services consumers in the Shenandoah Valley need.  

CEOCFO: Are you more of a business/commercial bank than a consumer bank? What is the mix and would you like to see that change?

Mr. Hanna: I think it is split about 50/50. We do a lot of both. We have a full menu of personal services.  We have a strong loan portfolio of what we call “shelf mortgage loans” which are non-conforming mortgages and we also offer a variety of conforming mortgage products through F&M Mortgage.  We also provide a variety of services to many different for-profit and not-for-profit entities. F&M has historically provided significant financial and volunteer support for charitable organizations in our communities and this year we launched a new, comprehensive suite of banking services – which even includes training for their employees and directors – to support these organizations with their financial needs.    

CEOCFO: How big a part is mortgage lending for you and is it in the commercial or consumer side of the business?

Mr. Hanna: We serve both the commercial and consumer sides of mortgage lending. With the small to midsize commercial focus that we have, we do a lot of commercial mortgages, those are all portfolio and we service all our loans in-house. We have the separate division, F&M Mortgage, that is very active in the consumer market with conforming loans which traditionally offer the lowest rates and longest terms.

CEOCFO: What role does wealth management play in your strategy? Is this more for customer relations?

Mr. Hanna: We have a phenomenal investment division with very knowledgeable and high-performing financial advisors. We strive to serve the full spectrum of our clients’ financial needs, so we are happy to leverage the trust that we create with their banking relationship to help them with their short-term and long-term investment needs. Being around since 1908 in our communities, clients trust that we will continue to serve their best interests today and for future generations.  

CEOCFO: What are some of the things you are doing in the area of customer satisfaction and customer retention?

Mr. Hanna: As a community bank we are about $815 million in assets. Client service is everything and if we fail to provide superior client service, we commoditize ourselves. We survey customers during the onboarding process to determine what they thought of our process, the people that they dealt with, and the products that they were offered. We also host community and client focus groups to help us identify opportunities and consumer needs. Throughout the year we do a lot of things to remain engaged with our clients. We host a variety of client appreciation events that include free document shredding days and special events geared towards kids such as free photos with Santa around the holidays. We also partner with local universities. In 2018 we had the largest tailgate in the history of James Madison University football. Once we learned of this, we had to go out this year and beat our own record. It will be tough, but we will try to keep setting the goal higher in 2020. James Madison has had a very successful football team so those client appreciation events have been extremely well attended and are a great way for our clients to network with leaders in our community.

One of the things that we take very seriously is giving back to our communities. We are a very benevolent organization that gives back and supports many causes. Sometimes we work through our clients to support charities that are important to them, which contributes to our service and retention. We have a symbiotic relationship with the Shenandoah Valley. As these communities prosper, the bank tends to flourish. Likewise, if the bank is growing and strong, we re-circulate everything from deposits, to dividends, to shareholder wealth back into the communities. That certainly has a multiplier effect which serves to grow our local economies.

CEOCFO: The world seems to be taken over by the millennial generation and now the generation Xers, who are more into technology. Do you offer the technology and FinTech products that they are looking for?

Mr. Hanna: Yes, and that is a challenge, but we do. The budget to be at the cutting-edge of new technology is overwhelming. We are probably what I would classify as a technology follower. We work with multiple vendors to provide all the bells and whistles, but we try not to make the large R&D bets in developing new technologies. We like to determine what technologies our clients want and invest heavily in those areas.

Getting back to the millennial generation, one of the things that we embrace is social media to promote the bank, to interact with our clients, and to interface with our communities. We are very active there. As you look at millennials – and this does not necessarily relate to technology – but one of the things that we recognize is that millennials tend to look for organizations with strong values that are active in their communities, making their communities better. These are attributes that F&M has embraced for 111 years and have really helped us connect with millennials and generation Xers at the local level.

CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the communities that you serve in Virginia. Are they more rural or urban? What are some of the businesses in the area and the employment availability for residents? Do they depend more on D.C. for employment or local businesses? And do they support their local banks?

Mr. Hanna: We are not far from the D.C. suburbs, but I would not say that our economy is heavily driven by D.C. There are folks that commute to the D.C. area but most of our economy is locally based. Two of the counties we serve, Rockingham County and Augusta County are number 1 and 2, respectively, in Virginia in terms of agricultural production in the state. Agriculture drives a significant amount of ancillary businesses that includes businesses such as veterinary services, feed, storage, processing, equipment sales and service, livestock auctioning, transportation and more.

We have a few small urban cities such as Harrisonburg and Staunton in our footprint that are fairly well diversified in terms of industries represented. Neither are large cities but they are both vibrant and growing. Harrisonburg has been impacted by James Madison University, which has been one of the fastest-growing universities in the state and in the Southeast. The University has grown to almost 25 thousand undergraduates. As it has grown, the amount of new infrastructure on and around the campus has certainly been a large contributor to our local economy. Staunton is also a city with a strong economy, a business-friendly environment, and affordable tax rates. Several well-known companies like Hershey and ComSonics have relocated or expanded there. We are fortunate to have several other Fortune 500 businesses like Molson Coors and WalMart Distribution in our footprint as well. We find that other locally based companies often support local banks like us due to our knowledge of the local markets, the flexibility we can provide and our focus on service and relationships.

CEOCFO: How many branches do you have and are you looking to grow that number in the near future?

Mr. Hanna: We currently have 14 retail bank branches, three F&M Mortgage offices, three VS Title offices and our Dealer Division offices. Timing is everything, so as we sit here today, we look to be opportunistic in our growth. We recently added our fourteenth branch in August of this year. That was the last of five branches added to our footprint through de novo expansion. De novo growth occurs when we open a new banking office with zero assets and try to grow the business from the ground up. We opened five new branches reaching into the southern part of our footprint, primarily in the Augusta County market, between June of 2015 and August of 2019.

We have been aggressive in trying to grow our infrastructure but as of today, we are more in an absorption role as we aim to aggressively leverage those investments and get the returns that we were looking for. Should an opportunity present itself, there are other segments of our community where we would like to expand with either physical retail facilities or through a loan production office. Although we are not actively seeking new investments at this time, we will continue to keep our ear to the ground.

CEOCFO: What is your management style? Are you more hands on or depending on your officers?

Mr. Hanna: I like to be out working with our team and meeting with our clients. I enjoy getting to know both our clients and our associates.  We have a great staff here at the bank and I delegate to the folks who are well equipped to handle different situations. The way banking is today, I don’t honestly believe anyone can be an expert in all the different functional areas we have to oversee. On a daily basis, F&M has to manage existing and emerging technologies, regulatory compliance, loan underwriting, portfolio diversification, liquidity, asset and liability pricing just to name a few. All this needs to be done behind the scenes so that we can focus our client-facing teammates on maintaining dynamic sales and client retention efforts. One person cannot keep up with it all, so I rely heavily on F&M’s Leadership Team as well as our Board of Directors.

CEOCFO: Do you have a Chief Security Officer?

Mr. Hanna: We do! We have an information technology department and an information security officer that is independent from IT who identifies risks and establishes protocol to keep our Bank and client information secure. It takes a lot when you consider all the potential threats coming at us like Ransomware, malware, phishing attacks and so on. In addition to technology, we have to actively manage risks that may be presented to us through our vendors and facilities. Bank security is a huge and growing area.

CEOCFO: What do you look for in your tellers, bankers, lenders and support staff?

Mr. Hanna: We are a relationship business. We have to provide outstanding, unrivaled customer service and a lot of that is cultivating relationships, knowing our clients, serving their needs and being there for them in good times and bad. A lot of what we look for are people who have a passion for serving the needs of their clients as well as their communities. Outside of that there is a growing list of technical skills and knowledge required to run a bank in 2019. It used to be that we could train our associates in the skills it took to run a Bank but more and more we have to recruit specific technical skills.  

CEOCFO: How did your bank manage to survive the TARP period?

Mr. Hanna: We have been a strong and high-performing financial institution for many years. While the opportunity was available, the bank was well capitalized and chose not to take preferred shares through the TARP program. We had a capital base to draw from and continued to run a strong, well-capitalized bank during those difficult years. Like every organization that I know of, we encountered our share of challenges, but overall, F&M came through that period stronger than most.  

CEOCFO: What is your current funding position? Is reaching out to investors an important role for you as CEO?

Mr. Hanna: We are very well-capitalized, so we are not actively trying to attract new capital. That said, we do reach out to current and new investors to create interest in F&M, to communicate our performance, and to create transparency around any challenges or opportunities we face. Over the years, F&M stock has done well. Currently, we are not enamored with our stock performance but we have undertaken some changes to better position our organization for the future. My belief has been if you are transparent with your investors and they understand your challenges and opportunities, hopefully they will remain patient and buy-in to the path forward.

CEOCFO: In closing, what sets F & M Bank apart from other local banks and why are you important to the fabric of the community?

Mr. Hanna: I think this includes a lot of what we have talked about. F&M Bank is the only publicly owned company still headquartered in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Virginia. We take that seriously and I think the community embraces that. Our clients and community members understand the long, rich partnership that F&M Bank has had with the Shenandoah Valley and the communities we serve. F&M has maintained a positive reputation since 1908 serving the needs of our clients and the community. We have been an integral contributor to the growth of the Shenandoah Valley and we hope to be involved in the continued development of these communities for another 111 years to come.

Stuarts Draft Now Open

F&M Bank is excited to announce the opening of our 14th branch in Stuarts Draft! Over the next four weeks, we have big things planned. Be sure to keep reading to meet our staff, learn about our giveaways and save the date for our Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening celebration!


2782 Stuarts Draft Highway, Stuarts Draft, VA 24477
(540) 609-2363

You can find us conveniently located between the Stuarts Draft Professional Center and the Dollar General, up the street from the Stuarts Draft Post Office. When you visit F&M Stuarts Draft you’ll find a new brick building with limestone pavers. We have plenty of parking available in front of our branch building, as well as a wheelchair-accessible entrance.

Jason Crum

Jason Crum, Branch Manager

Join us in welcoming Jason! Coming to F&M Bank with six years of banking experience, Jason Crum is ready to lead the Stuarts Draft team. He’s already been out and about in Stuarts Draft, but if you haven’t had a chance to connect with him, drop by our branch!

Much like his team, Jason is community centered. He is an assistant coach for a local youth sports organization and an active volunteer with United Way, Salvation Army and Adopt-a-Highway.

When asked about choosing banking as a career, Jason said, “What I enjoy most about working in banking is being able to help people and make a difference in their lives. Bank clients become family, and there is nothing more satisfying than helping someone gain financial confidence.”

Outside the office, Jason loves to spend time with his wife, Tayler, and 10-month-old son, Mackson. He also enjoys playing golf, spending time with friends, watching sports, attending ODU football games, and interestingly, mowing the grass!

Kacee Fridley

Kacee Fridley, Branch Specialist

Say hello to Kacee! After spending 4 years serving the Craigsville community, Kacee Fridley is excited to make the transition to the Stuarts Draft branch. In total, she brings 7 years of banking experience to the new office.

Kacee is an active community member. Along with Jordan, she has a soft spot for animals and does what she can to help various animal rescues. She also likes to attend community meetings and help raise awareness and donations for area organizations, specifically Foster Love Ministries.

When asked what she loves most about banking, Kacee said, “I enjoy being able to firsthand help all of my customers whether it’s a simple bank transaction to accounts and loans as well! I take pride in being able to open someone’s first account, help them purchase their first vehicle and later with a mortgage!”

Outside the office, Kacee enjoys spending time with her husband, Michael, and two children. Plus, we can’t forget about her two dogs, who are a large part of her family.

Jordan Smitherman, Branch Specialist

Meet Jordan! Transitioning to Stuarts Draft from our Myers Corner (Staunton) office, Jordan Smitherman brings four years of banking experience to the new branch!

Jordan is involved in her community and enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters and working with rescues to help find foster homes and permanent placement for homeless animals. She also likes regularly volunteering at community events through the bank!

When asked what she loves most about being a banker, Jordan said, “I am able to support people with their financial needs in all stages of their lives. I love being able to witness children open up their first savings account to a newlywed couple being approved for financing on their first home.”

In her free time, you’ll find Jordan spending time with her husband, Zac, and their fur babies. They enjoy working on home improvement projects together.

Weeks of Giveaways

Our responsive and knowledgeable staff is ready to listen to your financial needs and goals and help you identify the right solutions. Come check us out in Stuarts Draft and discover all that F&M has to offer!

As an extra incentive, over the first four weeks of branch opening, you can enter to win various door prize giveaways! Stop by each week and enter to win the below prizes. Limit one entry per person, per week.


We’d also like to cordially invite you to attend our Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening Celebration on Thursday, September 12th at 4:30pm! Co-hosted by the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, our event will feature catering by Simple Elegance, local wines, the cash bag grab, and more!

To learn more about the event and our four weeks of giveaways, follow us on Facebook!

New Farmers Guide to Starting a Farm in Virginia

If you’ve been considering starting a hobby farm or a small farm for profit, you’re one of thousands of Americans of all ages who have recently delved into the field. To continue to encourage the growth of new farms, even the USDA has put money on the line, “nearly [tripling] funding for the only two programs specifically designed to support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers,” according to The Atlantic. Running a small farm can be a rewarding hobby as well as a profitable business or side-hustle, but because of the nature of farming—startup costs are high and success often relies on experience—it’s not easy to dive right in. While deals can still be found, finding the right land to purchase or rent at the right price can be daunting, and equipment costs can quickly add up for even the smallest operations. Careful consideration and planning, and in many cases financing, are necessary to get hobby farms and farm businesses of all sizes off the ground and financially sustainable.

Farming is the biggest private industry in Virginia

Farming is the biggest private industry in Virginia, with almost 46,000 farms across the state. The vast majority of these farms, however, can be considered hobby farms, providing only a portion of the owners’ annual income. Is it worth it to start a farm, even if it may not be your only mode of income? An article from the University of Virginia addresses that question, arguing that farming can be “personally rewarding” whether you do it as a hobby or a way to make a living. Whatever type of operation you have, such as raising a few beef cattle or starting a broiler operation, farming can provide additional income, help subsidize the cost of your property, or even provide a living.

That’s not to say that a farm can’t support a family or individual. In fact, there are many government programs designed to help get new farms up and running, with tax-breaks, financial incentives, grants, and loans. Over the years, the push to promote access to healthy food, including vegetable and organic food production, has created numerous programs to assist, educate, and fund small farms—and many of these programs can be taken advantage of by both full and part-time farmers. However, having a good idea of what you want out of your farm, whether it be side-income or a full-time endeavor, is important to the ongoing success of your establishment.

Things to Consider When Developing Your Farm Goals

Before pouncing on a newly-listed farmette or moving back to the family farmstead, it’s important to consider some personal and practical questions about your goals as a farmer. These questions will help you refine your ideas and expectations, and ultimately allow you to create a viable business plan to allow your farm to flourish, as well as to present to family members, lenders, and other funding opportunities. Although there are many things to consider before jumping into starting a farm, there are three major questions you should ask yourself as you begin exploring the possibilities:

  • What do I want to put into my farm and what do I hope to get out of it?
  • What do I want to grow or raise on my farm?
  • And, how will I pay for it?

What do I want to put into my farm and what do I hope to get out of it?

Vegetable farmingThe first part of this question may require some soul-searching. Farming can be hard work, and even hobby farms require a lot of it. Consider how much time you are willing to devote to your farm — both on a day-to-day basis and seasonally. If you are recently retired and look forward to long winters in Florida, livestock like dairy cows that require a year-round commitment may not be the best bet. On the other hand, if you currently work as a teacher, growing vegetables seasonally might be a great side-income that takes advantage of extra free time in the summer. And if you’re ready to jump in and do the work of a full-time farmer, then it’s good to know what it takes to make a farm business successful and see if you’re up for the challenge.

When you consider the second part of this question—what you hope to get out of your farm — that doesn’t mean figuring out what your farm will produce. Rather, think about the benefits you hope to reap from your endeavors. The answer can be financial in nature—how much money do I want/need to make?—but it doesn’t have to be. What is your vision for life on the farm? What sort of experience or psychological reward do you hope to take away from it? At the end of the day, season, or year, what impact has farming had on your life?

The Good Heart Life recommends creating a holistic goal, which is different than a business plan, that includes three items: “Quality of Life Statements,” or how you want your daily life to be, “Behaviors and Systems,” or the things you will do and practices you will maintain to support that quality of life, and your “Vision,” or the ultimate impact your farm will have on you and your community, reflecting your core values and mission for the farm. Often times it is this holistical goal, rather than a financial one, that drives our desires to venture into the world of small farming, so it’s important to understand what we hope to gain from our hard work, before getting into the specific details.

Once you have a firmer understanding of how you want your farm to fit into your life and what you hope to achieve with your farm, only then is it time to determine what the farm that fulfills your goals will look like.

Choosing the Right Size Business for You

When talking about farm sizes, the first thing that will probably come to mind is acreage, but size isn’t the only thing that matters. Some lucrative and labor-intensive crops can happen on a very small scale, and some large-scale ventures can end up turning very little profit or even lose money in a bad year. Hops, the perennial vine whose flowers give definition to beer, is a great example: one acre can yield $25,000 or more, but requires significant infrastructure and hands-on hours during harvest. Successful small vegetable and fruit operations can also happen on smaller farms of a few acres or less. However, cattle will need room to roam and commodity crops like wheat and soy not only require substantial acreage but also expensive planting, weed management, and harvesting equipment. So when thinking about size, don’t just think about the size of the farm, but the size of the business as well. Will it be run in your spare time, full-time with no help, or will you hire staff or seasonal workers? How big do you want your business to be?

One acre of hops can yield $25,000 or more

Your financial status will likely come into play here, whether this endeavor will be self-financed, or if you will need to pursue financing options in order to make your dream a reality. While income from hobby farms may be useful to supplement land costs, most viable farm businesses rely on financing either to make the initial land purchase, to buy large equipment, or annually to make large regular purchases from livestock to seed. Financing also may be necessary to grow your farm to the size that it actually turns a profit. Rather than start very small and hope the minimal profits will enable you to continue to grow, creating a solid business plan and financing a larger but still manageable operation may allow you to generate a profit faster and be the difference between your farm being a financial liability and a viable business.

Choosing the Focus: What do I want to grow or raise on my farm?

Greenhouse hobby farmHobby farms and small farm businesses can pursue one specific focus, like goats or cut flowers, or something more in line with our traditional vision of the farm life: a small orchard, chickens running in the yard, and rows of vegetable beds. Many hobby farms end up growing into a small business, as the farmer hones in on specific areas of focus, professionalizing and making them profitable.

Although choosing a focus should come second to determining what size of operation you want to run, chances are you already have an idea of what you are interested in growing on your farm, and oftentimes your area of focus will dictate the size of your business or land and your seasonal workload. It’s good to consider these things—your desired business size and your area(s) of focus—simultaneously. You may even go back and forth or change your thoughts on one or the other as your ideas start to take shape. That’s all part of the process of making the best decision for you. Let’s take a look at some common focuses for small farms, some innovative revenue streams, and important things to consider as your ideas for your farm start to come to life.

The Beloved Market Farm:

With increasing consumer interest in purchasing local, seasonal food, as well as ever-expanded funding opportunities fueled by this interest, vegetable farming is rightly on the top of many new-farmers’ lists. And it’s hard to imagine an idyllic farmstead without a seasonal vegetable garden, lush and fruitful, tucked behind a white-picket fence. Growing vegetables has a place on nearly any small to mid-sized farm, whether it’s a kitchen garden for personal use, a market garden for selling at local farmers’ markets and roadside stands, or larger-scale, multi-acre vegetable production for local markets, including restaurants and stores. Most small vegetable farms are diverse, which means they do not specialize in only a few crops, but grow a wide variety of vegetables spanning the entire growing season. What you choose to grow will be in part determined by your own palate, but also by a number of other conditions, including the size and quality of available land, climate, and local demand.

Consider Land Needs

Soil quailty examination

Your business or personal plans will largely dictate what size your production will be, but the area of quality tillable land available to you will also impact not only the size but also what can be grown. Certain crops (like pumpkins and corn), can be space hogs for the entire growing season, while other crops can be quite productive in a small space, or can be part of a plan for succession planting, where one piece of land can produce more than one harvest (lettuce and greens are one of the most common examples of this). And almost all vegetable varieties need well-drained, fertile soil to thrive.

Smaller gardens in places with poor soil conditions can be constructed out of raised beds, composting and fertilizing, double-digging to loosen soil and bring nutrients to the surface, and terracing to prevent washed-out beds. But to bring poor, compacted, or wet soil to good, usable condition on more than half an acre of land can be daunting if not impossible. If you already have land you plan to use, consider whether or not it will be ideal for vegetable production and at what scale. If you are still looking for property, keep your production goals in mind as you scout out locations. Conducting soil tests prior to purchase or planting is important to avoid heartache and financial hardship down the road.

Lastly, don’t forget to ensure that you have a quality water source easily accessible to your planting beds, or that it will be affordable to bring one in. And if the conditions on your current property are just not right for vegetables, don’t despair — there are lots of other things to grow or uses for land that don’t have such high standards.

Growing for the Right Climate (and Beating Mother Nature)

Growing seasons in Virginia vary dramatically across the state

Beyond soil and land quality, you’ll need to consider the ins and outs of the climate of your region when determining what can be grown and at what scale. Unless you are specializing in only a few crops, the large variety most vegetable gardens contain further complicates the picture, which means effective space planning and planting scheduling are paramount to success.

The growing seasons in Virginia vary dramatically across the state, with last frost dates ranging from early April in Norfolk to early June in parts of the Blue Ridge Mountain region. Because of the range of climates all within the boundaries of one state, it’s important to be familiar with your own microclimate, which can be different from neighbor-to-neighbor or even from one side of your property to the other in mountainous areas. Additionally, the amount of rainfall, humidity, and high temperatures will affect not only what you can grow, but what will thrive in your region. Peppers and eggplant will explode given the proper heat, while kale will bolt and become bitter by May under the same sun.

While some plants must be direct-seeded, to get a proper harvest of market-stand favorites like tomatoes and peppers, you’ll need to plan seed in late winter or early spring and transplant once the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to the proper temperature. Planting early, even when not necessary, can also extend the growing (and harvesting!) season, and give you a jump on the local competition. So, despite being a Southern state, consider access to greenhouse space or the purchase of transplants a necessity for most areas of Virginia. Additionally, high tunnels, which are unheated, temporary greenhouse structures, provide a cost-effective way to extend the growing season several weeks on either end, and may be a simple alternative or additional means of increasing your production. The benefit of extending the growing season is that it not only produces more food on the same land, but it also spreads out your income and workload, while making the most of whatever space you have available.

In addition to weather, there are other aspects of mother nature that can have an impact on your crop production: Animals. For example, the average deer will eat up to seven pounds of food a day, which can amount to a lot of lost tomatoes. When growing in remote places with heavy animal populations, keep in mind that you might need to set up some kind of fencing or other deterrent to stave off the local critters.

Marketing Your Produce

Lastly, if you’re looking to market your vegetables, you’ll need to consider local demand and pre-existing competition. Scout out local farmers’ markets to gauge their size and ability to absorb another stand. Also, consider what is not already represented and see if your farm could fill in any gaps: is there a lack of organic produce, greens, or more exotic vegetables, for instance? Is there a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share already in the area? Is your farm or potential farm on a busy road that could support a roadside stand or onsite store? You can also approach nearby restaurants to see if they would be interested in sourcing fresh, local, seasonal produce. But don’t despair if you find yourself unable to sell everything you grow locally. Driving a few hours to sell to larger markets, especially those in NoVa, can be especially lucrative. The Washingtonian recently published this helpful map and guide to dozens of DC-area farmers’ markets, and Richmond has numerous opportunities, including the expansive Richmond Farmers’ Market.

Additional and Alternative Income Streams for the Small Farm

Keeping Bees for Honey

Despite the threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (sudden loss of whole colonies) as well as the general decline in wild bee populations due to rising disease in the US, beekeeping is still a popular farming venture, and with an array of value-added products like flavored honeys and candles, there are many possible streams of revenue.

Get started beekeeping for as little as $500

Beekeeping requires a lot of supplies upfront, from hives to protective gear to collection and storage equipment, not to mention the actual bees! Beekeeping can be started on a personal scale for as little as $500, though mid-size operations can cost thousands to get up and running. On a small scale, beekeeping is a part-time, somewhat seasonal hobby, with the most labor involved in setup (spring) and maintenance and honey collection (summer). As with all farming practices, seasonal changes play a big role in how you will start and tend your hives. Hives should be set up in the spring months in temperate climates like Virginia, so be ready to pre-order your colony and equipment in the winter in preparation. If you miss the window this year, you’ll have to wait till the following to order your bees to ensure that they will be well-fed and healthy enough to survive their first winter in their new home. A great resource for Virginia beekeepers is Virginia State Beekeepers Association, which not only provides in-depth information and classes about keeping bees, but also connections to local groups.

One thing to keep in mind before starting the time-consuming endeavor is to consider if your location is suitable for keeping bees, as well as choosing the right spot to start hives on your farm. If your hives will be located near a conventional farm, the threat of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, is very real. Pesticide exposure is considered to be one of the causes behind Colony Collapse Disorder, and have caused the die-offs of small and major commercial colonies alike. Farms are required by law to notify beekeepers before pesticide applications (if requested), and to be upfront with information concerning their use of pesticides, so don’t be afraid to politely ask your neighbors in advance! Another thing to consider if you are near conventional farms is whether your bees will have the proper nutrition, which can contribute to their overall resilience to disease. According to, monoculture farming also makes it more challenging for the bees to forage a well-balanced diet,” so bees kept near these farms will need to have additional food sources. The upside to this is that a great partner for beekeeping is another great small-farm venture: cut flowers.

Cut Flowers and Herbs

Cut flowers can bring in up to $30,000 per acre, according to, so making even a little room for them on your farm makes good financial sense. In addition to being one of the most highly-profitable forms of agriculture per acre, cut flowers (and herbs!) can be a great additional stream of income for not only beekeepers, but vegetable farmers as well, as most of the basic tools for for planting, transplanting, and harvesting can be used for both. Additionally, farms with lots of flowers bring native pollinators in to help your garden produce bountiful fruit, a much-needed boost in these days of declining beneficial insect populations. The more beneficial insects you have, the better the ecological balance your garden will have, leaving it less susceptible to infestations of harmful pests. Lastly, many flowers and herbs (like marigolds, cilantro, and mint) actually ward off the bad bugs. And if those arguments weren’t convincing enough, even a few specially-placed cut flower bouquets or luscious bunches of herbs will attract buyers to your market stand and add beauty and variety to your CSA.

Cut flowers can bring in up to $30,000 per acre

Cut flowers and herbs can be grown in the perimeter of existing vegetable beds as a side-stream of revenue, or on their own designated fields. As with vegetables, growing flowers strongly benefits from, and almost requires, access to greenhouse space to start transplants in mid to late winter, in order to expand varieties for sale, as well as get a jump start on the growing season. Depending on the size of the operation, you may also be able to purchase seedling transplants from local growers or wholesale, though you may sacrifice choice and it could, of course, cost significantly more per plant, hollowing out profit margins. Also be aware that commercially-grown transplants may be treated with chemicals that can deter beneficial insects or even harm your bee colonies, so also be sure to ask before purchase.

Animal Agriculture

So far we’ve focused on things that you plant and harvest, but also consider what you can raise, and how animals might fit into the picture. Adding a few animals to your farm, like goats or chickens, might bring in additional streams of revenue as well as valuable manure compost for your garden. And it’s hard to picture Virginia farmland without the rolling hills capped by miles of white equine fencing, In fact, you might want to just skip the crops altogether and devote your acreage to the animals.

Chickens, Ducks, and Geese: More than just eggs

Chicken farmAs Virginia Estates points out, “With the rising cost of eggs in today’s market and the dangers of pesticides coming to light, raising chickens can be the perfect solution if you have a bit of land.” Although keeping fowl seems like a surefire way to add to the authenticity of your farm, chickens, ducks, and geese offer a lot more benefit than you might initially think. Chicken manure is exceptionally high in nitrogen and makes great fertilizer for your vegetable beds. Chickens and ducks make for excellent insect control, devouring slugs, grubs, and other pests that can wreak havoc on gardens. Geese, on the other hand, are primarily herbivores, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their place. Metzer Farms, one of the largest waterfowl hatcheries in the country, details how useful these birds can be: “Weeder geese have been used for years to control unwanted vegetation in commercial crops, waterways and lawns [and] have strong food preferences with grasses being at the top of the list and most broad-leafed plants being disliked or unpalatable.” And of course, let’s not forget the eggs. Free range chicken eggs are in high demand and can bring $5/dozen or more in the right market. Goose and duck eggs can also fetch a good price in specialty markets, sometimes up to $5 an egg!

Larger Animals: Goats, Llamas, Alpacas, Sheep, Horses

If you don’t have a green thumb, but have space to spare, consider basing your enterprise on animals instead of plants. Because each animal eats about 3 pounds of food per 100 pounds of animal per day, and grazing too much on the same space can also lead to erosion as well as parasitic infestations in the soil that are difficult to defeat, you’ll ideally allot about 2 acres per animal for larger grazing animals. However, although access to water is imperative, the quality of land doesn’t necessarily have to meet the high standards of vegetable production, providing additional opportunities for those with lots of land but less-than-ideal growing conditions. Although we typically think of cattle or pig farms and dairy operations when we thinking of raising larger animals, here are a few additional “outside of the box,” ventures to consider for small farms.

Goat milk and products made from goat milk are still trending after years of popularity. According to Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, raw goat’s milk can bring in the highest price of all dairy, selling for up to $14.50 per gallon. Additional items like goat cheese and yogurt can further increase profits and use up any milk not immediately sold, decreasing waste as well. Keep in mind, though, that goats need to be milked up to twice a day at peak lactation, and bred often (every 1-2 years) to keep the milk supply up. In other words, there’s a substantial and daily time commitment required for running a goat (or any!) dairy production.

Raw goat milk can sell for up to $14.50 per gallon

Llamas, alpacas, and sheep are kept for their wool and are relatively low maintenance on the day-to-day basis (more time is required for shearing), so may be good choices for those who would like to keep animals, but don’t want to spend hours milking and processing milk each day. Alpaca and llama wool can fetch a premium, but these animals will generally produce less wool and require more food than a sheep. Unless you have a large operation, your best bet will be to sell to local markets and crafters. Learning to spin and dye wool will add value to your product and expand your market to individuals who want to buy something ready to use, and this processing can be done at any time, for added flexibility. These animals are herd animals, so you’ll need to buy more than one. And costs can add up quickly for the initial animal purchase. As Andrew Amelinckx writes for Modern Farmer, “A nonbreeding male with decent fiber runs $500 to $1,000. Females who produce both fiber and offspring typically start at $3,000 and can go up to $30,000 or more, while show-worthy herd sires still fetch as much as $60,000.”

Lastly, especially in Virginia, another popular revenue stream for your small farm with room to spare can be animal boarding — particularly horses. Horse boarding requires significant infrastructure, including stables and large fenced pastures (at least 1 acre per horse). Home Advisor offers an informative break down of types of fencing and average costs, but in general, expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars for a small pasture. If you plan on just having a few horses for personal use, you can get away with a smaller and more affordable, no-frills shelter, however, if you are boarding horses for income your customers will expect much more, including access to equipment and gear, professional care-taking, and fully-enclosed and secure stables, which could add significant cost to your farm purchase if those facilities aren’t already on the premises. The Horse offers an excellent guide to building a horse farm from scratch, including hiring an architect or designer, site-planning, and managing manure.

Financing Your Dream: How will I pay for it?

Once you determine what your farm will look like, you’ll need to create a plan to achieve your vision in practical terms. The last question, and in many cases the most important, involves considering how you will finance your farm purchases — the farm itself, the equipment, infrastructure, seed/transplants, animals, workers, maintenance, utilities, taxes, and other yearly expenditures.

Creating an Effective Farm Business Plan

Almost all successful businesses depend on thorough planning, and this is especially true for those, like small farms, that have large initial and ongoing costs. Before you attempt to purchase your farm, taking the time to make an effective business plan will help you create a concrete strategy for proceeding, as well as open up many funding opportunities from places like local and national associations, state and federal programs, and conventional banks, who will expect you to have a clear vision (in writing!) before considering helping to finance your endeavor. There are literally hundreds of resources for creating a feasible small-farm business plan out there, but below you will find a round-up of five exceptionally useful business planning tools and services:

  • VA FAIRS (Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation, and Rural Sustainability) is a full-service nonprofit helping individuals start small farms in Virginia. VA FAIRS specializes in “strategic planning, grant assistance, feasibility study, and business plan creation, and cooperative assistance for rural agricultural enterprises,” assisting over 100 producers in the past three years.
  • AgPlan is a free website designed to help small farms develop their own business plans. AgPlan provides “customized assistance to different types of rural businesses” with “outline[s] designed specifically for that particular type of business, tips or questions that help you develop each section of the plan, sample business plans, and links to additional resources for each section of the plan.”
  • If you’re looking to learn how to start a farm in Virginia or transition your own conventional farm to other forms of agriculture, Piedmont Environmental Council offers significant conservation-focused educational opportunities, including online resources as well as the “Small Farm Dream Course.” The course provides support to “beginning and transitional farmers considering starting an agricultural operation,” and is designed for those who are “considering launching a small farm enterprise, but are not sure where to start.”
  • The Virginia SBDC provides counseling and education for small businesses of all kinds. In addition to online planning tools and resources, a wide array of classes are offered online on-demand as well as in person in small group sessions throughout Virginia.
  • Although not a local resource, the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) has published an extremely useful free publication, “Building a Sustainable Business, A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses.” Designed “to address the evolving business planning needs of beginning and experienced rural entrepreneurs,” the guide includes five designated tasks that guide you from identifying your values to creating and implementing a business plan.

Virginia Beginning Farmer Resources:

Additional Beginning Farmer Resources:

Funding Round Up

Federal Loans and Grants

Before we jump into the world of US Federal Funding, prepare yourself for a whole lot of acronyms, the most important of which is USDA. The USDA is the largest agricultural organization in the world, and although most of the funding is provided for large-scale conventional farms, there are a lot of opportunities for small, new farms as well. The 2018 USDA Farm Bill formed the FOTO program (Farming Opportunity Training and Outreach) which will receive $435 million in funding over the next 10 years to help new and underrepresented farmers get started in the field. Their website is a great resource for links to numerous programs through the USDA, though there are so many, it can be difficult to wade through. The USDA provides significant federal funding opportunities through a variety of programs, notably through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The FSA offers many different kinds of loans suitable for beginning and small farmers, including general farm loans and loans for targeted audiences. A complete guide to FSA Farm Loans can be found in their online guide, but below you’ll find a broad overview of the many options.

General FSA Farm Loans

The FSA operates a number of loans for farm purchase, as well as general purchases and operating costs These include Direct Operating Loans for things like “livestock and feed; farm equipment; fuel, farm chemicals, insurance, and family living expenses” as well as “minor improvements or repairs to buildings and fencing; and general farm operating expenses,” as well as Microloans designed especially for small and beginning farmers, especially those with “specialty crop and niche type operations.” Direct Farm Ownership Loans can be used to purchase property or build your facilities, as well as for “soil and water conservation and protection purposes.” And lastly and most common, Guaranteed Loans are designed to finance farmers who may not qualify for a conventional commercial loan. You can apply for these loans directly at your local lender, including F & M Bank.

Loans for Targeted Audiences

There are also many FSA loan programs designed to help nontraditional and small farmers get their foot in the door. These include Youth Loans for young people to “to finance educational, income-producing, agriculture-related projects,” loans for Minority and Women Farmers and Ranchers designed to “support the full participation of minority and women family farmers in FSA’s farm loan programs,” and loans for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, which can finance farmers who have been operating for less than 10 years.

USDA Grants

In addition to borrowing money through their loan programs, the USDA also offers numerous grants special for small local farmers of healthful goods, including grants for specialty crops, value-added products, promoting the consumption of local food and farmers’ markets. They even have a grant program for improving the energy efficiency of your operation (REAP).

Part of the giant USDA umbrella are two other note-worthy organizations: National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which provides grants through Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

The NRCS provides financial and technical assistance through the following programs:

  • Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA): Can be used to build or improve irrigation systems
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): Can be used to improve the quality of resources condition like energy, water, soil, and habitat
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Can be use for “conservation practices, or activities, such as conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns on their land.” Additionally, the competitive Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) is awarded for projects that “stimulate the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural lands.”

SARE has funded over 6,700 grants for farms and educators looking to promote their mission: “to advance—to the whole of American agriculture—innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education.” SARE is divided into four regions, Virginia falling under Southern SARE, which has granted over $5 Million in funding in Virginia alone. For small farmers, SARE offers “On-Farm Research Grants” and “Producer Grants,” which fund of up to $15,000, to “test on-farm or marketing ideas or solutions to existing farm problems…” A recent local example of a SARE grant project was testing production methods for growing baby ginger over winter: “the project built a house-within-a-house protecting the mature plants even at Blue Ridge winter temperatures to explore seed production possibilities.”

State Funding and Local Resources

VA Farmer Resources

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the size and number of federal programs, keep in mind that there are numerous state and local programs available to Virginians, both to help you apply to federal programs and to help finance your undertaking on a more local and personal level. Here are a few to get you started:

VA FAIRS: As part of its goal of helping small farmers get started, VA FAIRS offers assistance in applying for federal grants, particularly the USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG), with awards of up to $250,000 for operations including “fresh produce, wine, beer, spirits, dairy, fish, forestry, livestock, meat processing, and more.”

The Virginia Cooperative Extension also provides assistance in applying for USDA loans including REAP, VAPG, and Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. Additional

Staunton Creative Community Fund: SCCF offers microlending to the Shenandoah Valley with loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 paid back over 1-6 years. There is special consideration for businesses which are “socially equitable” and “environmentally sound.” SCCF serves the counties of Augusta, Rockingham, Rockbridge, Highland, Bath, Albemarle, and Nelson, and the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg and Lexington.

In an effort to promote access to healthy food, the Virginia Community Capital offers an array of loans for borrowers including “food hub operators, retail and wholesale distributors, value-added processors and producers, and food business incubators.” Loans can be used for both acquiring real estate and improving and expanding small businesses.

Conventional Financing: The Benefits of Working with a Local Bank

Although there are numerous government and private programs out there to help you finance or fund your dream, it is likely that you will also rely on conventional financing from a local bank as well, either to fill in the gaps in funding or make large purchases (including the initial land purchase!) that do not qualify for other forms of assistance. When choosing a financial institution, finding a reliable, knowledgeable, and local option will provide you with the peace of mind that you will always have someone available and on your side as you wade into the complicated business of starting and funding a small farm.

F&M has been serving area farmers since it was incorporated by farmers and local businesses in 1908, and provides an array of financial services to help finance your farm and manage your business finances, including mortgages, home equity, and construction loans to fund the initial property purchase and/or improvements of a small farm, as well as agricultural financing (including USDA Guaranteed Loans) for real estate, cattle, dairy, and poultry farm operations and business checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and cash management.

With the recent hire of Paul Eberly as Vice President, Agricultural and Rural Programs Leader, F&M Bank has shown itself to be a dedicated resource for farmers in Virginia, especially in the Shenandoah Valley. Paul is knowledgeable about farming and farm business alike (he has Bachelor of Science in Animal & Poultry Science from Virginia Tech, with a Minor in Agricultural & Applied Economics!) and will work with clients to consider both long term goals as well as short-term financial needs. Whether you are just becoming interested in how to become a farmer in Virginia, or have been running your own enterprise for years, F&M Bank has the resources, knowledge, and tools to help make your farm a success.

Tom Campbell, AVP / Commercial Relationship ManagerNMLS# 494610Jordan Dean, Business Development Officer Ag & Rural ProgramsNMLS# 1627648Greg Spitler, VP Agribusiness Relationship ManagerNMLS# 494629Paul Eberly, VP Ag & Rural Programs LenderNMLS# 1060550
(540) 713-2567
(540) 437-3472
(540) 437-3468
(540) 437-3461

F&M Bank Sponsors Great Community Give

Our business has joined the Great Community Give as a platinum sponsor. The Great Community Give, an initiative of The Community Foundation, is a community-wide day of giving for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. 89 nonprofits from all over greater Harrisonburg & Rockingham County will benefit from this powerful day of action on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 from 6:30am to 8:00pm. This innovative online fundraising event encourages Harrisonburg & Rockingham County residents to donate in support of their favorite local charities.

The Community Foundation has raised over $70,000 in sponsorship prizes for the nonprofits that raise the most money and have the most unique donors. Other prizes will also be given throughout the day. Donors go online to to connect with causes they care about and make tax-deductible donations to support the important work of nonprofits that serve the greater Harrisonburg and Rockingham area.

We highly encourage you to give to your favorite local charities on April 17th. You can easily donate for as little as $10. If you have any questions about this event, please call The Community Foundation, (540) 432-3863.

F&M Bank volunteers mark Agriculture Literacy Week

PRESS RELEASE: F&M Bank volunteers mark Agriculture Literacy Week

For Immediate Release | March 27, 2019

Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom celebrated its annual Agriculture Literacy Week March 18-22, and volunteers from Bridgewater, Elkton and Woodstock F&M Bank locations were among participants.

John Coffman, Ashley Griffith, Ashley Lam, Ashley McClure, and Paul Eberly of F&M Bank joined volunteers from Farm Bureaus, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Farm Credit, local FFA chapters and other agriculture organizations to read books about agriculture in their local schools.

Many read the book Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen and donated copies to school libraries. The book was selected as the 2019 Virginia AITC Book of the Year.

“Reading in the classroom gave us an opportunity to share agriculture with children and help them understand why it’s so important in Virginia and right here in their community,” Eberly said.

Having members of the agriculture community in classrooms across Virginia “is a great opportunity for students and their teachers to learn about agriculture from those who know it best,” said AITC Executive Director Kelly Pious. “The number of volunteers, state agriculture officials and others who step forward each year to read to children in their communities is simply incredible.”

Virginia AITC is part of a nationwide effort to help teachers and students understand and appreciate agriculture, which is Virginia’s and the nation’s largest industry. The program provides an opportunity for children to connect to agriculture through volunteer-led activities, school grants, educator professional development and web resources at

The AITC program is funded by donations received through the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. For information on supporting the foundation’s educational initiatives, visit and click on the “Donor” link.

For more information, please contact Holly Thorne, Marketing Director at (540) 217-6409, or email


About F&M Bank

F&M Bank serves the Shenandoah Valley with 13 full-service branches, a network of ATMs, and a wide variety of financial services including home loans through F&M Mortgage and titling services through VS Title. Both individuals and businesses find the organization’s local decision-making, and up-to-date technology provide the kind of responsive, knowledgeable, and reliable service that only a progressive community bank can. F&M Bank has grown to over $770 million in assets and boasts over 175 full and part-time employees. Its conservative approach to finances and sound investments, along with excellent customer service, has made F&M Bank profitable and continues to pave the way for a bright future.


Students Spend Day Learning About Banking

by Megan Williams, Daily News Record

During March, area high school seniors will spend time shadowing bankers at F&M Bank as part of Bank Day, a statewide effort sponsored by the Virginia Bankers Association’s Education Foundation and the VBA Emerging Bank Leaders.

The purpose of the day is to expose students to the banking industry and provide an opportunity for the students to learn about banking, financial services and the role F&M Bank plays in its community.

On Thursday, a group of 10 students from area high schools learned about different jobs at F&M Bank in Timberville.

A few of the students were there because they want to go into some aspect of banking some day, while others said they wanted to learn about financial responsibility and familiarize themselves with how banks work.

Students learned about tellers, loan officers, brokers, collections agents, information technology and security, and outreach, and how all of those different areas are part of F&M Bank, which employs more than 200 people in the area.

“A lot of the students come in and don’t know a lot about what we do,” said Aaron Green, senior vice president and commercial relationship manager. “Banks all over the commonwealth are doing this. Our model is probably a little different. We want to expose them to all areas of the bank.”

Autumn Slifer, a senior at Broadway High School, said she wants to go into banking, most likely as an accountant.

“I know a lot of people in the banking field,” Slifer said.

Even so, there were a lot of areas of banking she was unfamiliar with before Thursday, especially the security and technology aspects of the industry.

“It was definitely worth the time,” said Slifer, who plans to attend Blue Ridge Community College in the fall.

Abby Olmstead, also a senior at Broadway High School, said she enjoyed getting to meet the people behind different banking jobs who you wouldn’t see on a daily basis.

“It’s really popular to vilify banking,” Olmstead said, “but they are real people.”

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272, @DNR_Learn or