Beginning Farmer Training Program from Future Harvest - Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture
The Future Harvest (Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture) Beginner Farmer Training Program is a year-long commitment with built-in scheduling flexibility, which allows participants to maintain a job and/or start their own farm enterprise while completing the program. Participants have the option of either training part-time or full-time. (There are a limited number of room and board options for trainees interested in training full-time.) The minium time requirement is 8 hours per week, or 300-400 hours per year (time may vary depending on each individual participant).
Trainees receive a complimentary annual FHCASA membership, free registration to all of our field days throughout the year, and free admission to our annual winter conference. We also may have a limited number of farm startup mini-grants—selected based upon need and merit—for which trainees may apply separately.
The BFTP begins with the Future Harvest CASA Conference in January. From January to March, participants attend weekly workshops and classes on business planning, crop production, and marketing. Using recommended templates, participants complete the first drafts of their business plans, grant proposals, and/or curricula in the spring.
From April to November (dates may vary), participants train one day per week for a full work day (eight hours) on their trainer's farm. Trainers work side by side with participants, discussing all aspects of sustainable farming while honing practical skills. Participants also attend a minimum of six Field Days or farm tours during the season, through Future Harvest CASA or another agricultural organization. The participants meet periodically at organized potlucks to discuss their business plans and share their experiences; the final meeting is in December for the Graduation Potluck.How to Apply: Applicant Requirements: In order to be eligible for the Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP), applicants must have at least one season of hands-on farm experience. Applicants must also demonstrate a firm commitment to a career in sustainable agriculture, and must either already have access to land or be able to demonstrate that they are close to securing land. We accept applicants from MD, DC, VA, WV, DE, and PA. Directions for Submission: Complete application packages must include:
- completed application form (in Word format)
- a cover letter
- a list of 3 references (at least 2 references must be from a work setting; the third may be educational)