New Beginning Farmer Website in Massachusetts

New Website Dedicated to Beginning Farmer Success in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts The Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts (BFN/Mass) just released its new coordinated website (www.bfnmass.org) which brings together resources and information from across Massachusetts that help beginning farmers. “The BFN/Mass website creates the structure we need to navigate through the many new farmer resources in MA,” says beginning farmer, Margiana Petersen-Rockney of Rosasharn Farm in Rehoboth.  Service providers can upload the information about what resources they provide to beginning farmers.  Resources such as classes, loan and grant programs, and even agricultural suppliers can be added to the “Resource Map” on the site which can be sorted and filtered to make it easy for a farmer to find what they are looking for.  If a farmer doesn’t know where to start, there is a “Resource Finder” which can lead farmers to some of the major agricultural resources in our state.

In addition, there is a blog where guest-bloggers can post articles they have written with useful advice for beginning farmers, as well as profiles of successful farmers so beginning farmers can see model pathways for creating a strong agricultural career.  If a farmer does not find what they are looking for, they can complete the referral form.  Farmers can also make a user account in order to receive updates when new resources, blog posts, or farmer profiles are added. Non-profit, government agencies, agricultural suppliers, or even just individuals who offer contract work to beginning farmers, are encouraged to upload the resources and services they offer (set up a user account at www.bfnmass.org).  Uploading information on this site will help these service providers gain visibility for their business and program, and will help beginning farmers find them more easily. Massachusetts is experiencing a resurgence of interest in local food and farming, and as a result, more people are becoming farmers.  For the first time in many years, the number of farmers in our state is steadily increasing.  In 2007, there were 7,691 total farms, up from 6,075 in 2002.  Our new farmers are working hard to gain the education, skills, training, and resources that they need to be successful.  The Commonwealth has many programs and resources that are useful to farmers, but it is sometimes hard for farmers to find what is right for them.  In addition, there are a number of challenges to beginning farmers in our state, including land access, finding the right training, and access to financial resources.  Here's where BFN/Mass comes in. BFN/Mass is a collaborative group of farmers and farm service providers dedicated to beginning farmer success in Massachusetts.  Since the fall of 2011, farmers and farm service providers have worked to create a coordinated website and referral network to help beginning farmers in Massachusetts effectively find the information and services they need.  This BFN/Mass website is now live and can be found atwww.bfnmass.org. BNF/Mass is funded through a 3-year grant awarded to the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (grant #2010-49400-21765).

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