• 14Jan

    Our friends at the Cornell Small Farms Program offer a huge array of useful resources for beginning and established farmers. Check these out…

    Beginning Farmers Online Resource Center

    Find answers to common questions, register for a variety of online courses, watch production videos and interviews with farmers, work through planning tutorials, and much more.

    Small Farms Program E-newsletters

    These bi-monthly updates bring you the latest info on agricultural events, funding opportunities, resources, and small farm related job opportunities from around New York State and the Northeast.

    Small Farms Quarterly

    A quarterly magazine for the Northeast region, with articles that inspire and inform farm families and their supporters. Read online or subscribe to the print edition, delivered to your mailbox.

    Financing/Grants/Loans

    This section on the Small Farms Program website features a library of funding opportunities.

    Guide to Farming in New York State

    This Guide is an essential resource, providing answers to questions about taxes, business planning, labor law, zoning, regulations, marketing, funding opportunities and many other topics that farmers need to know.

  • 12Jan
    So you grow or raise everything on your farm using organic practices, but you’re not yet certified organic? At what point would it be worth the paperwork to become certified? Could your business benefit by being able to use the word “organic” in your marketing? Are you foregoing a price premium by not certifying? How hard is it, anyway? Dive into these questions in the 4-week online course BF 106: Organic Certification – What, How, and Why (or Why Not).  This course features presentations by certified organic farmers on what certification looks like on their farm and how they made the decision.

    The course is targeted to aspiring, beginner, and experienced farmers who are considering organic certification. 

    New this year! Participants who complete all requirements of one or more online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through

    BF 106: Organic Certification runs from Mon. Feb 2 – Mar 2 with Monday night webinars 6-7:30pm EDT. If you aren’t able to attend in real time, webinars are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

    All of our courses consist of weekly real-time webinars followed by homework, readings, and discussions on your own time in an online setting.

    This course costs $150, and up to 4 people from the same farm may participate without paying extra. See the course description page for more on the course learning objectives, instructors, and outline.

    These courses are part of the line-up of 14 online courses offered this Fall, Winter and Spring by the Cornell Small Farms Program. Learn which courses would be best for you, read about our team of experienced instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and  view the calendar of course offerings for 2014-2015.

    Courses often fill very quickly, so don’t miss your chance to sign up today!

  • 05Jan

    Land Stewardship Project Outlines Major Reforms for Making the Nation’s Largest Ag Program an Accountable & Reliable Safety Net for All Producers

    LE SUEUR, Minn. — The nation’s largest federal agriculture program is a significant barrier to beginning farmers who are trying to get access to land and capital, according to a new white paper released by the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) today. Crop insurance has in recent years become a major publicly-funded mechanism for inflating land prices, concludes the “How Crop Insurance Hurts the Next Generation of Farmers” white paper, which is based on an analysis of government data and farmer interviews.

    “Crop insurance should be an effective safety net for all farmers, not just a select few raising a small number of favored crops,” said Tom Nuessmeier, who raises crops and livestock near Le Sueur and serves on LSP’s Federal Farm Policy Committee. “Unfortunately, it’s become a program that is biased against some of our most innovative farmers.”

    As two previous LSP white papers show, crop insurance cost the taxpayers over $58 billion between 2003 and 2012, and is projected to produce a $90 billion tax bill over the next decade. Launched in 1938 to provide a basic safety net for farmers facing severe weather catastrophes, public funding for crop insurance now mostly benefits 19 major insurance corporations and some of the largest crop producers in Minnesota and the U.S.

    Because the program subsidizes as much as 60 to 70 percent of the cost of premium subsidies and has no limits on how much an individual producer can qualify for, it provides a publicly-funded source of cash for bidding up rental and purchase prices, according to Mark Schultz, one of the authors of the LSP white papers.

    “Our interviews with farmers confirm that it has served to artificially inflate land prices by allowing the largest crop operators to lock in profits and aggressively purchase and rent farmland to expand their operations, driving up land costs beyond the reach of most farmers,” said Schultz, who is also LSP’s Policy Program director.

    Crop insurance also makes it difficult for beginning farmers to access capital since it limits coverage for producers who have little or no yield history or who choose to raise a diversity of crops. Emily Hanson, who along with Klaus Zimmermann has been searching the past few years for a farm to raise crops and livestock on, said even marginal acres are out of their price range because of the inflationary market. Read more »

  • 31Dec

    Wishing everyone successful and enjoyable farming adventures in 2015

    Happy New Year from Beginning Farmers

    Red Russian Kale

  • 29Dec

    Beginning Farmer Technical Assistance Program Coordinator with the Institute for Social and Economic Development in Boston, Massachusetts

    Organization Description: The Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, has provided training, evaluation and management activities worldwide since 1988. ISED believes that high quality technical assistance, program evaluation, and measurement improve long-term social and economic outcomes for vulnerable people and their communities.  Refugee farming and gardening is ISED’s prominent domestic emphasis at the current time.

    Job Summary:  The project is funded by USDA to set up a three-year collaboration with 24+ refugee-focused farming incubator projects (RFIPs) nationwide, to review beginning farmer curricula and programs for refugees, identify the gaps and develop, pilot test, and distribute specialized curricula and course workshop modules, and develop and test multiple instructional tools and manuals for instructors and technical assistance providers.  The Coordinator will work closely with the Project Director, interns, and partners to implement the program.  Major activities include coordination with partners; strengthening instructional and curriculum development skills among RFIPs; developing and pilot testing curricula and instructional methods; tracking and evaluating development and implementation efforts; and coordinating dissemination with USDA and project partners. Read more »

  • 28Dec

         Beginning Farmer Technical Assistance Project Coordinator in Boston Massachusetts

    Organization Description: The Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, has provided training, evaluation and management activities worldwide since 1988. ISED believes that high quality technical assistance, program evaluation, and measurement improve long-term social and economic outcomes for vulnerable people and their communities.  Refugee farming and gardening is ISED’s prominent domestic emphasis at the current time.

    Job Summary:  The project is funded by USDA to set up a three-year collaboration with 24+ refugee-focused farming incubator projects (RFIPs) nationwide, to review beginning farmer curricula and programs for refugees, identify the gaps and develop, pilot test, and distribute specialized curricula and course workshop modules, and develop and test multiple instructional tools and manuals for instructors and technical assistance providers.  The Coordinator will work closely with the Project Director, interns, and partners to implement the program.  Major activities include coordination with partners; strengthening instructional and curriculum development skills among RFIPs; developing and pilot testing curricula and instructional methods; tracking and evaluating development and implementation efforts; and coordinating dissemination with USDA and project partners. Read more »

  • 26Dec

    The North Farm at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center is an incubator farm that specializes in diversified organic vegetable production and season extension in northern climates. The North Farm is located in Chatham, MI in the central UP, and close to markets in Marquette, Munising and beyond. There is a growing demand for fresh produce in the Upper Peninsula, and the North Farm will assist Apprentice Farmers in developing their markets. This program is open to individual farmers, as well as farming couples/partnerships.

    The North Farm Apprentice Farmer Program is designed to reduce the barriers of access (such as land acquisition, business management experience, and growing skills) for beginning farmers who are interested in starting their own farm business. Three apprentice farmers will be selected to begin the two-year program in the spring of 2015. While technical assistance is available, the apprenticeship is not a training program. This opportunity is ideal for a farmer who has a significant amount of farming experience and is ready to take the next steps towards launching their own farm business in a northern climate.

    Apprentice Farmers Will Receive:

    • Access to organically managed land – 1/4 acre plot for the first year, 1/2 acre for the second year.

    • Access to shared infrastructure – storage space, walk-in cooler, root cellar, hoophouse space, washing/packing shed

    • Access to equipment and tools

    • Mentorship from the North Farm staff and other stakeholders

    • Opportunities to network with other area growers and food enthusiasts

    • Opportunities to participate in competency-based workshops and trainings

    • Optional housing at the North Farm

    • Assistance in developing a transition plan off the North Farm after the two-year program

    Cost of Participation

    • $700 per growing season for land and resources.

    • Optional on-farm housing provided at $175 per month.

    • Optional custom tractor work as needed is also available for a small fee.

    For more information, please visit http://www.msunorthfarm.org/apprentice-farmer-program.html.

  • 23Dec
    CONGRESSIONAL NEWS
    It’s a Wrap—This Congress is Over—Final Bills and Letters
    Both the House and Senate have now finished, bringing this Congress to a close. A new Congress — the 114th — begins in January. Take a look at the government spending and tax subsidy bills, as well as three congressional letters to USDA Secretary
    Tom Vilsack, in this this summary of some important end of
    session activity…Logo

     

     

    SPECIAL REPORT
    Farm Microloans Big in 2014
    USDA’s Farm Service Agency has been a long-standing resource
    to new farmers. Last year, FSA launched a new streamlined farm loan program to specifically target the credit needs of smaller
    farms – including those just starting out and those selling to local and regional markets. This microloan program officially launched in January of 2013, and has made over 8,400 loans in every state throughout the country, freeing up approximately $161 million in financing to new, minority, and small farmers…Logo
  • 22Dec

    Boot Camp for Farmers Workshop: Financial Planning, Business Literacy & Food Safety - Friday, January 9, 12pm-4pm, Allen Market Place, FREE

    In this workshop, financial and food safety experts will share successful ways Michigan farmers are opening doors to new markets, like food hubs, through improved financial readiness and food safety practices. Registration for this workshop is free of charge & lunch is provided. RSVP by Monday, January 5, 2015: exchange@allenneighborhoodcenter.org, 517-999-3923

    Growing Your Internet Presence - Friday, January 16, 1-3pm, Allen Market Place, FREE

    Websites and social media have the potential to have a huge marketing impact for your business. Learn options for website creation and get design tips for creating an effective website, as well as advice on how to best use social media to your advantage. Workshop led by Sam Rose of Holocene Systems LLC, and Veronica Gracia-Wing of Piper & Gold Public Relations. To RSVP, contact Egypt: 517-999-3923 or exchange@allenneighborhoodcenter.org

    Intro to Beekeeping

    Saturday, January 24, 12:30-2pm, Hunter Park GardenHouse, $5-10 donation

    This workshop will teach the basics of backyard beekeeping, equipment needed, and safety. Workshop led by beekeepers Jeremy Sprague and Matt Wojack. To RSVP contact Zach: gardeningeducator@allenneighborhoodcenter.org, 517-999-3910

    Effective Crop Planning: How to Plan for Your Target Markets - Friday, January 30, 1-3pm, Allen Market Place, FREE

    Crop planning is a vital component of farm success. Learn to grow your bottom line through effective planning and efficient use of space. We’ll discuss how to identify crop needs and create seeding, transplanting, and harvest schedules to meet the needs of your markets and ensure you have a steady supply of high-quality product. Workshop led by Dan Fillius of MSU Student Organic Farm. To RSVP, contact Egypt: 517-999-3923 or exchange@allenneighborhoodcenter.org

    Basic Construction Skills for Gardening - Saturday, January 31, 12:30-2pm, Hunter Park GardenHouse, $5-10 donation

    Learn helpful skills that will guide you in an assortment of home & garden projects. Please bring a cordless drill & bits if you have one. Workshop led by Rita O’Brien of Hunter Park GardenHouse.

    Urban Gardener Certification Program - Program begins February 28. Sign up soon!

    Looking for a fun introduction to gardening? This program, intended for beginner-intermediate gardeners, features 11 sessions of instruction in basic yard and greenhouse gardening skills. Participants will have hands-on instruction as we plant and care for a garden together over the length of the program. Registrants attend Saturday workshops with special guest lecturers, and additional Tuesday evening labs offering hands-on practice with GardenHouse staff.

    Program fee is reduced with work-share options: 1. Urban Gardener- pay $100 and do not complete any work-share hours; 2. Urban Gardener with 20 hours- pay $75 and complete 20 work-share hours; 3. Urban Gardener with 40 hours- pay $50 and complete 40 work-share hours.

    For more details about the program (including full schedule & topics), please view the application/ agreement form available online. Or contact Zach: 517-999-3910; gardeningeducator@allenneighborhoodcenter.org​

    Farmers & Food Businesses: Apply for Free or Low-Cost Services & Consultations - Apply Soon! Read more »

  • 12Dec

    Only three days left to apply!

    In addition to a savings match of up to $2,400, Farm Asset Builder participants will work with Learning Center staff to create an updated business plan and a customized menu of financial management classes and workshops tailored to their particular business needs. Reimbursement up to $200 is provided for these educational opportunities, which can include individual mentoring, Quickbooks and other bookkeeping training, farm financials workshops, and more.

    For more information,  click here or send an e-mail to farmassetbuilder@learngrowconnect.org

    Meet a FAB 2014 Participant: Radical Root Farm 

    Radical Root Organic FarmLocated on about eight beautiful acres across from a forest preserve and adjacent to a bike trail in Libertyville, IL, Radical Root Farm is owned and operated by Alison Parker and Alex Needham, 2013 Beginning Farmers of the Year and 2014 Farm Asset Builder participants.

    Alison and Alex joined the FAB program because they want to make their farm a viable and sustainable business that can pay them a livable wage. Like many beginning farmers, when they started their own business they knew a great deal about production but not as much as they could have about managing a business. Incentivized by the savings match, they have worked with a specialist and taken classes aimed at putting their record keeping and accounting on a more solid footing. This work has enabled them to clarify their plans to meet their financial goals. “It made me feel like we’re on the right track to being a better business,” says Alison.

    To Apply:

    1. Please take the  Eligibility Quiz to see if you qualify. If you qualify, we invite you to apply for the program!
    2.  Click here for the application form. Do not wait; the application deadline is December 15.
    3. As applications are received, qualified candidates will be contacted for an interview process, which can be completed online, by phone, or in person.
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