Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects

Final Report for ENE05-092

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $80,904.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Jennifer Hashley
Trustees of Tufts College / New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
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Project Information

Summary:
Northeast Network Of Immigrant Farming Projects - Summary

Immigrant farming projects (IFPs) assist aspiring immigrant and refugee farmers in five Northeast states to develop sustainable agricultural enterprises. IFP’s offer technical services and training programs to participating farmers. The NNIFP represents the first regional network of IFPs in the country. It also is an innovative approach for linking underserved and limited resource farmers. The cost, time, and effort to organize and hold trainings and other meetings and workshops are shared among members, and individual project contributions needed to make programs work are minimized. Sharing the cost of expensive training programs and joint training activities can benefit a greater number of service providers and reach more farmers. It helps us learn from each other’s mistakes, generate new ideas and solutions to common problems, and build on each other’s work. Individual projects could not organize and carry out these activities on their own. Collaboration also brings in new partners and resources that benefit all IFPs. Finally, by offering training and education opportunities to immigrant farmers, we not only build their skills and capacities, but also link them to the mainstream farming communities that are also attending the conferences and trainings. This is a critical step to assuring that immigrant and refugee farmers do not remain isolated or feel segregated as they become more established and need to be integrated into the mainstream world of farming.

IFPs included in the NNIFP extend from Long Island, New York to Lewiston, Maine. Though the farmer profiles differ among IFPs, challenges among IFPs remain fairly consistent. The NNIFP was formed as a strategy to bring together farmers, staff and partners to address these common challenges, and to work together to build IFPs which operate more effectively to meet the needs of their constituencies.

Performance Target:
Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Objectives/Performance Targets

Of the 30-35 staff and partners of immigrant farming projects who receive training-of-trainers instruction and professional development in five areas, 20 will subsequently develop and share training curricula and materials for immigrant farmers, and 12 staff representing six projects will incorporate these into their education and training programs. To achieve these outcomes, IFP staff, partner representatives and farmers will complete:

(a)3-day low-literacy training (30 participants) – Training was successful, but fell short of the target by six people.

(b)a 2-day Exploring the Small Farm Dream Trainers course (12 participants) – Target was Exceeded.

(c) an 8-12 session NxLevel Training (10 participants) – Fell Short of Target

(d) cultural diversity and sensitivity training; (40 participants) – Target was Exceeded.

(e) a 2-day Participatory Farmer Organizing and Community Development Trainers course (12 participants) – Target was re-evaluated and adjusted (with approval of SARE)

As they complete each of the trainings, 20 staff and partners will collaborate to revise or develop course curricula and presentations for farmers that reflect what is learned, to better address their farmers’ cultural, educational and literacy needs and capacities. IFPs will incorporate these materials into their own training and technical assistance, reaching approximately 150 farmers during the project period. Target was exceeded.

Materials and training experiences will be shared among the projects and posted on the NNIFP Website. Target was met.

Progress and timetables for achieving all activities will be tracked by the Coordinator. The impact of revised materials, trainings and communications strategies will be assessed through establishment of pre- and post comparisons of training materials, outreach and technical assistance T&TA materials. Changes in communications strategies will be assessed to determine how staff, partners and farmers in these projects will better understand each other’s cultural and ethnic perspectives; how trainings and educational materials are better suited to immigrants’ capacities; and whether beginning immigrant and refugee farmers are receiving better T&TA to understand and plan their personal and professional aspirations for farming in the Northeast. Target was met.

 

Introduction:
Northest Network Of Immigrant Farming Projects - Introduction

NNIFP members meet quarterly in addition to sponsoring training events and attending conferences with farmers. They share strategies for program implementation, relate “lessons learned,” plan training activities, policy work, outreach, and resource sharing. They organize site visits to project farms and markets and to other farming operations. A high priority for the NNIFP is joint training activities. This approach increases the cost-effectiveness of such endeavors, and enhances impact by bringing many talented people together to learn and share these training experiences. Training of trainers involves IFP staff and partner organizations.

The priorities for professional development were developed mainly through meetings of NNIFP members, and reflected in the NNIFP strategic plan. IFPs have additionally consulted with their participating farmers and with core partners who assist them with T&TA. Projects establish their needs and then establish shared priorities through NNIFP planning.

IFPs face several challenges in communicating and providing training and technical assistance (T&TA) to immigrant farmers. Barriers include farmers’ limited education and formal agricultural training, limited English language skills, and low-literacy. Many immigrant farmers are constantly confronted with discriminatory practices, and blatant or structural racism as it influences how these farmers experience agriculture in the United States. Cultural differences among farmers and between farmers and staff also raise the need to address cultural sensitivity. Additionally, IFPs expect farmers to take leadership roles in the decision making processes for their businesses. IFP’s encourage farmers to participate in creating direction for the future of their IFP’s. These factors create a need for IFP staff to engage farmers and their staff in participatory leadership development and organizing strategies.

The staff of the network’s immigrant farming projects (IFPs) and their partner organizations are also diverse. Some have advanced university degrees and significant experience working in agriculture and community development, but more limited experience working directly with immigrant farmers. Others may have less education but have more direct familiarity with participants and their communities. Several service providers are Latino, African or Southeast Asian themselves. Participating farmers (who will benefit from all trainings) are first generation immigrants and refugees from Africa, Asian and Latin America. Their education also varies (from pre-literate to grade school level through to college level); most have limited English language and literacy abilities. These factors create the need for NNIFP professional development trainings to transcend educational and experiential differences among staff and farmers.

NNIFP members communicate through the NNIFP list serve. This list serve is used to schedule meetings, trainings, and other events; post news and articles of interest from various sources; and discuss issues and share information and ideas. In addition, the NNIFP maintains a website which educates the public about the work of the NNIFP; contains private members-only access for archival of NNIFP documents, posting of proposals, reports, evaluations and training materials.

NNIFP members also participate in the National Immigrant Farming Initiative (NIFI), a national network created to support programs, resource development, research, demonstration, and dissemination of activities to address the needs of immigrants and refugees.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Katherine Brown
  • Amy Carrington
  • Alison Cohen
  • Kate Granger
  • Maria Moreira
  • Hector Tejada
  • Eric Toensmier

Educational Approach

Educational approach:
Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Methods

(a)Methods
The NNIFP was interested in helping users to write clear, simple, and more accessible text for readers, to help reduce misunderstandings, errors, enquiries, and overall lack of comprehension. Plain language emphasizes cultural relevance; i.e., reaching culturally diverse audiences with appropriate messages and materials.

The NNIFP searched for a trainer who specialized in content geared towards low-literacy agriculture constituents. No such trainer could be located. Instead, the NNIFP found Sue Stableford, who is Director of the AHEC Health Literacy Center at the University of New England, Biddeford, ME. Sue established the first national institute for plain language writing skills. Though the bulk of her training had been geared towards healthcare in the past, Sue worked closely with the NNIFP prior to the workshop to review samples of materials which were being used, and to tailor the program to fit the needs of the agriculture constituents.

(b) Methods
Exploring the Small Farm Dream is a successful curriculum and training program developed by the New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI). Its goal is to assist aspiring farmers to decide whether or not farming as a business is right for them. Using whole farm management approaches, the program helps aspiring farmers learn what it takes to start and manage their own commercial agriculture business. The Explorer Program includes a workbook, workshops, courses, and self-guided study.

NNIFP members were looking for training-of-trainer course so that they could share the Explorer materials with their farmers. One IFP member, Eric Toensmeier, of Tierra de Oportunidades Project Nuestras Raices, Holyoke, MA, is a certified Explorer trainer, and he coordinated and conducted the training for NNIFP members in collaboration with the author of the workbook, Kate Hayes.

(c) Methods
The NxLevel Guide, Tilling the Soil of Opportunity for Agricultural Entrepreneurs financial training is geared towards more established farmers with related financial management and business planning experience. The information as currently presented in NxLevel trainings is too sophisticated for many immigrant and refugee farmers. IFP’s agreed that they would benefit from taking NxLevel courses so that they could have the background to design their own materials using Plain Language strategies.

NxLevel training is offered by each individual State, depending on the demands of the individuals in their service area. IFPs looked for course offerings in their state and in surrounding states, but only one or two “train-the-trainer” instructor courses were offered across the country during the SARE project period. Two opportunities were offered in the Northeast, neither of which emphasized the Tilling the Soil curriculum, but rather focused on NxLevel Entrepreneur or MicroEntrepreneur. The materials are comparable, but not identical.

(d) Methods
Few people have training in working with multiple cultures, and without this knowledge, it can be difficult to appropriately disseminate critical information and effectively encourage farmers to communicate across language and cultural barriers. Cross-cultural sensitivity and diversity trainings better equip staff, farmers and other service providers with the skills to break down barriers and to promote more farmer involvement and leadership in projects. The goal is for farmers with dramatically different agricultural backgrounds, cultures, languages, learning and communication styles to better understand systemic prejudices and better appreciate diverse cultures.

One former IFP member, Jim Hanna (former Director of NASAP), is active with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB), which is a national and international collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation. As a result, he is familiar with various anti-racism and cultural sensitivity training programs. Jim recommended that dRWorks, based in Smyrna, Georgia, would provide training appropriate to the needs of NNIFP members. The dRworks Dismantling Racism process is designed to help leaders and organizations who want to proactively understand and address racism, both in the organization and in the community where the organization is working.

(e) Methods
Participatory methods provide tools for ensuring that projects are planned, carried out, driven and controlled by the beneficiaries. The initial NNIFP initiative intent was to provide a training using participatory community development, to benefit immigrant farmers working collaboratively on training farms or in marketing coops who become a community which shares ideas, resources, and infrastructure.

During this grant period, IFP members concurred that the needs of their constituencies fell less in the realm of Participatory Community Development, and more in the realm of of Participatory Leadership Development. The idea is to instill a sense of empowerment for immigrant farmers to become leaders in their communities, and to allow them to work towards more collaborative structures from a leadership role, so that these new leaders can continue to work over the long term, without external support.

Methods
IFP’s agreed that they face many obstacles in communicating and providing technical assistance to immigrant farmers. Barriers include farmer’s limited education and agricultural training, low-literacy and limited English language skills. As a result, it is important to share strategies for program implementation and relate lessons learned. In order to address these issues, IFPs arranged a curriculum sharing day, to discuss training strategies and share training materials. Also, methods for the Low-Literacy Training, noted above, grew out of these needs.

Methods
IFPs agreed that they needed a forum where members could actively exchange ideas and resources, to schedule meetings, and post news at any time.

IFP members identified a web designer, Eric Hopp, whose work emphasizes creative approaches to social justice issues. His work provides appropriate media tools to make organizations more efficient and effective and to foster participatory democratic social structures.

Methods
The NNIFP held regular quarterly network meeting to assess and evaluate progress based on the Professional Development trainings and collaborate and share challenges, communications strategies, farmer trainings, outreach and educational materials.

In addition, during the grant period, IFPs chose to gather outside of regular network meetings, to reassess and evaluate the impact of NNIFP activities, the intent of the network, how funds are managed, fundraising, network management, training activities, and the future of the network. To aid in facilitation of this process, NNIFP members hired an external evaluator and consensus builder, Dick Batten from Karp Resources. Mr. Batten conducted individual interviews with IFP directors to assess how well the network was functioning and whether it was achieving its goals. He also facilitated a one-day evaluation meeting held in Lowell, MA on March 26, 2007. Sixteen people attended, including three farmers. The purpose of the meeting was to reestablish common ground of the group, determine the future purpose of NNIFP, to propose specifications of the purpose, to determine factors for success, determine next steps, and to build capabilities of the participants.

 

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
Accomplishments:

Publications

Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Accomplishments

Using the skills developed in the 3-day Plain Language training course, IFP’s have changed the way that they create materials for their low-literacy constituents. Collaboratively, the NNIFP created nine documents listed below:

Four-page Plain Language brochure describing NASAP activities – Prepared by NASAP
Four-page Plain Language brochure describing NESFP activities – Prepared by NESFP
Plain Language Guide to Exploring Your Small Farm Dream – NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Starting a Value Added Food Business – Prepared by NESFP with NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Managing Risks on the Small Farm – NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to USDA/NASS End of Season Fruit and Vegetable Inquiry – NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Harvesting Your Crops – prepared by NESFP
Plain Language Guide to Applying for an FSA Loan – prepared by NESFP with NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Selling at a Farmers Market – prepared by NESFP

The above Plain Language documents are posted on the public section of the NNIFP website: http://www.nnifp.org. These materials have been distributed in hard copy to individual IFPs for use in their programs and the links to the online documents have been promoted through the National Immigrant Farming Initiative’s website and listserv, and the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Project’s listserve (HHS/ORR – RAPP project). The USDA NASS survey has been reviewed by the New Hampshire USDA office and is used in interactions with producers, and the Massachusetts counties of FSA have received copies of the Plain Language FSA loan application guide.

The brochures developed by NASAP and NESFP, noted above are currently being used for outreach to clients in communities in which they operate.

All documents are currently being translated into Spanish and are receiving a “face lift” through some graphic design work and improved formatting.

See Appendix A for evaluations pertaining to the Plain Language training.

Accomplishments
The Explorer content was recast into a short version, usable in a one-session course. The short course was tested by several IFPs with groups of farmer trainees, and was successful. The short course has been shared among IFPs, and has now been incorporated as a part of the curriculum.

IFPs agreed that an even more accessible and understandable written version of the Explorer workbook would be relevant to the IFP’s, since some version of this course material is currently being used for training by all IFP’s. As a result, IFPs decided to develop a Plain Language version of the independent Explorer workbook. This book was developed jointly by several IFPs (NY, and 2 projects in MA) and was reviewed by the author, Kate Hayes, in July 2008 who provided critical feedback. A final version of the Plain Language Explorer guide is still under revision with the author and the New England Small Farm Institute. A completed version is anticipated by fall 2008.
With permission from SARE, leftover funds from the Explorer training budget were shifted to the Anti-Racism budget line item, in order to conduct a follow-up anti-racism training, which was geared towards farmers (see “Cultural Diversity and Sensitivity Training”, below.)
Note, See Appendix A for Evaluations pertaining to the Explorer Course Training.
Accomplishments
Unfortunately, to date, there is little to report for accomplishments from having sent two IFP members through NxLevel instructor training. One IFP member from RI who took the course in Delaware in 2005 resigned from her position in early 2006 and to our knowledge, the course materials were not used in their IFP programming. The IFP member from MA who took the course in Maine in October 2007 plans to become an instructor for MDAR’s courses they offer twice annually after fully participating in the course as a student (the instructor course just introduced potential instructors to the standard curriculum). Once more familiar with the curriculum and experience serving as an instructor, she will lend additional experience with how this curriculum could be adapted to a low-literacy, beginning farmer audience.
With permission from SARE, leftover funds from the NxLevel training budget were shifted into the Anti-Racism budget line item, in order to conduct a training geared towards farmers (see “Cultural Diversity and Sensitivity Training”, below.)
Accomplishments
Since the training, all IFP’s work consistently to integrate the cross-cultural sensitivity concepts into their programs, operations and communications with farmers, staff and partners. Below are examples of some of the ways in which IFP’s have approached their follow up schemes.

One IFP developed an initial general plan and shared the plan with the group. The plan includes an assessment by each staff person of their role in the organization, and a review of gate-keeping functions and power analysis. The group conducted third-party interviews with farmers to identify gate-keeping functions and to determine how gate-keeping functions affect their operations. The project is in the process of developing a new strategic plan, which will include components from staff assessments, farmer interviews and general anti-racism initiatives.

Another IFP agreed to document how they will transfer the decision-making power from their committee to their farmers.

A third IFP was instrumental in coordinating the Anti-Racism training for farmers, which took place on January 29 – 30, 2007.
A fourth IFP is using the concepts learned in Anti-Racism training in day-to-day communications with farmers. Since this group does not have any staff, there are limited benefits in formalizing a written plan.

Note, see Appendix A for evaluations relating to the Anti-Racism training.

Accomplishments
Attendees agreed that the Curriculum Sharing Day was beneficial. IFPs expressed interest in scheduling a similar materials sharing meeting for the future to review organizational documents which outline relationships between IFP organizations and farmers. Materials to be reviewed will include contracts, rules, and loan protocol materials.

Accomplishments
Members have found that the NNIFP listserv and face-to-face interaction are better tools for management of NNIFP information. NNIFP members have found that in order for the NNIFP initiatives to move forward, a dialogue between members is necessary – which cannot be accomplished via the website. IFP’s have found that network meeting time and time before and after Professional Development trainings are the best times to discuss issues surrounding their work and to share materials.

At the same time, members have also relied heavily on the NNIFP listserv for communications. This list serve is used for posting of announcements, scheduling of events and circulation of media articles. The NNIFP listserv currently has 35 members.

Currently, the NNIFP site is mainly being used by non-NNIFP members, who access the public domain space to learn about NNIFP activities. The site is also being used as a means to archive the NNIFP developed plain language documents.

Accomplishments
The facilitated meeting on March 26, 2007 grew out of (a) a need for the network to re-evaluate its purpose and impact and (b) the result of new members joining the group. The need for this evaluation was an unexpected event during the funding period. As a result of the facilitated meeting, network members eventually established a revised set of purposes:

Primary Purpose: To work on issues important to farmers
Secondary Purposes:
(1) To share resources and information among groups
(2) To enhance professional development and invite people in. To combine and take advantage of mutual training opportunities.
(3) To share challenges and solutions of individual IFP’s with the network or seek advice from network members when solutions are not evident.
(4) To address dismantling racism within the network – to invest in ourselves so that we can think and operate better – to keep the learning of the training alive. To develop a proposal to address DR.

The group decided that they would delay options for request of additional funds to administer the network through a central IFP. At the same time, the group agreed to continue to exist and function, to write fund requests into their individual grant proposals (for travel, etc. for quarterly meetings), but not solicit other large grants at this time. The group decided that they would revisit fundraising options in the future.

During this grant period, the NNIFP expanded to include 2 additional member organizations. One is a group of Hmong farmers in Massachusetts, called the “Flats Mentor Farm.” The organizer of this project, Maria Moreira, is a previous staff person with the NESFP and the farmers she serves are graduates of NESFP’s training programs who have gone on to work directly with Maria, the landowner on an independent Heifer-funded project. The second new member is Farmers of the World, in Pennsylvania, formed by Hector Tejada, a graduate of the NY project. An additional partner organization, the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants (MORI) is also a new partner in the NNIFP as they have initiated another Refugee Agricultural Project in Massachusetts. Future expansion of the network could also include other refugee agriculture project supported through HHS’ Refugee Agricultural Partnership Project (RAPP) that is funding initiatives in Manchester, NH and Burlington, VT. There is also another group call Immigrants in Agriculture (IMMAG) forming through Lutheran Community Services in Springfield, MA. They are currently collaborating with Nuestras Raices in Holyoke. MA.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Outcomes

Northeat Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Outcomes and Impacts

Outcomes and Impact
A 3-day Plain Language training took place on October 27th - 29th 2005, at the Glynwood Center in Cold Spring, New York. A total of 22 IFP staff and partner agency representatives attended the training (including two farmers, representatives from four IFPs, and nine partner organizations, including USDA). The training was given by Sue Stableford, Director of the AHEC Health Literacy Center at the University of New England, in Biddeford, ME. The training addressed literacy and reading abilities of typical materials and identified key elements of plain language to apply the knowledge in analyzing materials.

In October, 2007 two staff people (who were not able to attend the 2005 training) attended a three-day Plain Language training given by Management Concepts, in Washington DC. Management Concepts specializes in training government agency personnel. This training was provided to 20 people, in various government positions within different agencies. Attendees were writing for various audiences, and not necessarily looking to obtain skills to use for materials to work with low-literacy populations. As a result, the third day of the training provided by Management Concepts was not applicable. The two NNIFP staff people took some time to translate the farmer manual for their IFP into Plain Language, using skills learned during the first two days of the class.

As a follow-up to the 3-day Plain Language training which took place in October, 2005, a process was started in which NNIFP members formed committees around specific farming topics to create training materials appropriate for the target audiences. This process proved difficult to implement due to the fact that materials being translated were being generated from “scratch,” and translations were not attempted from actual IFP working documents. As a result, IFP’s were not viewing these documents as relevant or useful to operations and it was determined that the process should be re-evaluated.

IFP’s later revised the process for document translation. In order to ensure relevancy, each IFP spoke with their growers and staff to gather the top documents most important to receive Plain Language translation.

During a regular NNIFP meeting in January 2007, attendees gathered existing training manuals which they used regularly. Attendees chose materials which they felt would be most important for their constituencies to have translated to Plain Language. Collaborative efforts by all IFP’s resulted in the development of manuals written using Plain Language techniques for low-literacy audiences. These manuals were posted to the public section of the NNIFP website for access by NNIFP farmers, staff, and anyone who wishes to use these materials.

Outcomes and Impact
On September 28th, 2005, 14 staff and partner agency representatives (including 3 farmers) completed a 1-day Training of Trainers Explorer course. The training was held at the New England Small Farm Institute in Belchertown, MA. Attendees consisted of course instructors and course managers, with the following qualifications: experience in operating their own business; experience in teaching adults; regionally appropriate farming knowledge and experience; and/or responsibility for promoting and administering the course.

NNIFP members and partners discussed the Training of Trainers Explorer course, during subsequent NNIFP quarterly meetings. Members agreed that the Explorer curriculum was too advanced, overly technical, and relied too much on participants conducting research on their own and by using the internet. However, IFPs see it as an essential decision-making tool to incorporate into their training of new entry immigrant farmers. Members agreed that the course should be revised.

Outcomes and Impact
Two staff people attended NxLevel trainings during the grant period. One training was given in Delaware, in December 2005, and the other training took place in Maine, in October 2007.
With the exception of these two NNIFP members who attended the NxLevel courses, NNIFP members who have expressed interest in NxLevel training were limited by times and dates of available courses offered in their geographic areas. Additionally, to participate as a student, NxLevel courses are generally 10 sessions in length and for many of the IFP staff, it was not possible to sit through a course as a student as originally anticipated.

Outcomes and Impact
NNIFP organized three Dismantling Racism Trainings, as follows: An initial 3-day Anti-racism training, was held on November 15th – 17th, 2006, at Mariandale Retreat, in Ossining, New York. The training was given by dRworks, a collaborative of trainers and organizers who have been facilitating Dismantling Racism training work for many years. A total of 24 individuals attended the course, including five farmers. Out of the 24 participants, a total of 17 network members, and 7 non-members (affiliates of member participants) attended.

The training included a two-day workshop designed to help organizations and individuals build on their understanding of racism and the ways in which racism is manifested in the U.S. and our organizations. Trainings focused on civil rights issues, racism, and cross-cultural communications strategies. The training also included a one-day organizational development session, in which participants learned about the stages that organizations go through to become anti-racist, learned how to access their organization’s strengths and weaknesses, learned how to access the current stage of their organization along an anti-racist continuum and to plan the next steps.

A follow-up Anti-Racism training was held on January 28th 2008, for those who attended the initial training in 2006. There were seven participants, including one farmer. Due to the location of the training (it took place in Portland, ME), the attendance was lower than the 2006 attendance, which was held in New York. Individuals from the New York area were unable to make the trip to Portland, ME for the follow up in January due to illness and weather.

During the follow up training, participants rated their IFP’s on a racist scale, and accessed the progress and challenges within their individual IFPs to address the racism issues since the time of the 2006 training. Though some progress had been made, participants felt that there would be an ongoing need to use the concepts learned in the training to move toward anti-racist status for their organizations. In addition, some time was used to discuss racism within the NNIFP organization. Since not all IFPs were represented at this follow-up meeting, it was not possible to form consensus regarding how to adapt new directions. These ideas will be discussed at future network meetings.

Throughout the process, IFPs developed an increasing awareness of the importance of engaging farmers directly in this training. Only six farmers had attended the trainings so far. IFPs agreed that a farmer-specific training (including translators) should be held to train as many farmers as possible in the dRworks strategy. As a result, with help from NASAP and NESFP staff using combined SARE and Heifer funding, the network coordinated a training event specifically geared towards farmers.

A three-day Anti-Racism training geared towards farmers was held on January 29th – January 31st 2008, in Lewiston, Maine. A total of 32 participants attended the training, including 22 farmers and four interpreters. Due to the location of the training, the majority of the farmers came from NASAP, which is based in Maine. A total of four IFPs were represented. In addition, the training was attended by 2 non-members (affiliates of member participants). The training was given by two trainers from dRworks, one of whom led the training in 2006.

Outcomes and Impact
A Participatory Leadership course was given on March 8th, 2008, in Brooklyn, by Heifer. A total of 21 people participated, including 15 farmers. Participants learned how to explore various forms of leadership that are needed to run a project, and learn new skills to create shared leadership within each of their groups.

Outcomes and Impact
On November 9, 2007, NNIFP held a curriculum resource-sharing day, at Overlook Farm in Rutland, MA. A total of 13 people participated, including 2 farmers, representing six IFPs. Attendees critiqued training materials for each of the immigrant farming projects represented. IFP’s also reviewed their training goals and strategies.

Also, see “Low Literacy Training” above.

Outcomes and Impact
The NNIFP hired Eric Hopp in 2005 to establish the NNIFP website, www.nnifp.org, and to program the site to include both a public section and a private (secure log-in only) section. The site is interactive in that all IFP’s can add content to the site. The public section contains background and description of NNIFP, IFP descriptions, news articles, training opportunities, employment openings, and a link to resources (such as books and manuals) frequently referred to by IFP members.

The IFP secure log-in section contains resources relating to both NNIFP topics and IFP topics. The NNIFP resources are organized into categories as follows: budget vs. actual financial reports, grant narratives and budgets, meeting agendas, meeting notes, member training and technical assistance activities, quarterly reports and year-end grant reports, and schedule of forthcoming meetings. Individual IFP content is organized into categories as follows: Assessments and evaluations, grant narratives, grant reports, guidelines for farm sites and technical assistance, outreach and promotional materials, strategic plans and internal management documents, job descriptions, and training manuals.

Though materials continue to be posted to the site, the site is not being used by IFPs as originally envisioned. Prior to the establishment of a site, NNIFP members felt that the site would offer a convenient place for IFPs to post and evaluate one-another’s training materials, schedule meetings, and post announcements. In practice, IFPs are utilizing face-to-face interaction and the NNIFP listserve (see below under “Accomplishments”) to communicate.

The network was informed in June that the program used to run the NNIFP site is no longer compatible with most servers. As a result, in order for the site to remain as-is, it would have to be updated to a newer version of the existing program, at a substantial cost. Since the cost for update to the site is prohibitive, the network is currently in discussions with the National Immigrant Farming Initiative for transfer of public information to their site.

Outcomes and Impact
Networking, sharing of materials, and collaboration took part before and after all professional development meetings noted above. Professional Development trainings and regular network meetings were held on the following dates, and included the following individuals:

July 8, 2005, at Cranston Farm, (home of FBIC), in Cranston, RI. Network Meeting – 20 participants, including three farmers, representing six IFPs, and five partner organizations

September 21 –23, 2005, Newark, NJ. NxLevel Training – One participant representing one IFP

September 28, 2005, at the office of the New England Small Farm Institute, in Belchertown, MA. Training of Trainers Explorer course - 14 participants, including 3 farmers, representing six IFPs.

September 29, 2005, at the offices of Nuestras Raices, in Holyoke, MA. Network Meeting – 14 participants, including 3 farmers, representing six IFPs.

October 27 - 29, 2005, in Glynwood, New York. A 3-day Plain Language training, given by Sue Stableford of AHEC Health Literacy Center at the University of New England - 22 participants, including two farmers, representing four IFPs, and nine partner organizations, including USDA.

March 3, 2006, at Tufts University, Boston, MA. Network Meeting – 15 participants, representing four IFP’s, including one farmer, and two partner organizations.

September 25, 2006, at the offices of NASAP, Portland, ME. Network Meeting - 17 participants, including one farmer, representing five IFP’s, and one partner organization.

November 15 – 17, 2006, at Mariandale Retreat, in Ossining, New York. 3-day Anti-racism training, Dismantling Racism, given by dRworks - 24 participants, including five farmers, representing six IFPs.

October 11 – 12, 2007, Ellsworth, ME. NxLevel Training – One participant representing one IFP.

October 24 – 26, 2007, Washington, DC. Plain Language Training given by Management Concepts – 2 participants, representing two IFPs.

January 30, 2007, at the offices of NESFP, Lowell, MA. Network Meetring – 12 participants, including one farmer, representing 5 IFPs.

October 5, 2007, a the offices of NASAP, Portland, ME. Network Meeting – 7 participants, representing 3 IFP’s.

November 9, 2007, Overlook Farm, Rutland, MA, Curriculum Resource-Sharing Day - 13 participants, including two farmers, representing six IFPs.

January 28, 2008, Portland, ME, follow-up Anti-Racism training given by dRworks – 7 participants, including one farmer, representing three IFPs.

January 29 –31, 2008, Lewiston, Maine, three-day Anti-Racism training geared towards farmers, given by dRworks - 32 participants, including 22 farmers, representing four IFPs and three partner organizations.

March 8, 2008, Brooklyn, NY, one-day Participatory Leadership Course led by Heifer International – 21 participants, including 15 farmers, representing four IFP’s.

In addition, on March 26, 2007, NNIFP held a meeting facilitated by Dick Batten, of Karp Resources. The meeting was attended by 16 members, including 3 farmers, including five IFPs and one partner organization. The facilitator conducted pre-meeting telephone interviews with IFP directors and staff, and prepared an agenda for a full-day meeting, which took place in Lowell, MA. The meeting generated solutions to the above issues, generated a sense of common interest among the IFP’s, and pushed the IFP’s toward a consensus of updated goals and priorities for the network.

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Accomplishments

Using the skills developed in the 3-day Plain Language training course, IFP’s have changed the way that they create materials for their low-literacy constituents. Collaboratively, the NNIFP created nine documents listed below:

Four-page Plain Language brochure describing NASAP activities – Prepared by NASAP
Four-page Plain Language brochure describing NESFP activities – Prepared by NESFP
Plain Language Guide to Exploring Your Small Farm Dream – NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Starting a Value Added Food Business – Prepared by NESFP with NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Managing Risks on the Small Farm – NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to USDA/NASS End of Season Fruit and Vegetable Inquiry – NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Harvesting Your Crops – prepared by NESFP
Plain Language Guide to Applying for an FSA Loan – prepared by NESFP with NNIFP Collaboration
Plain Language Guide to Selling at a Farmers Market – prepared by NESFP

The above Plain Language documents are posted on the public section of the NNIFP website: http://www.nnifp.org. These materials have been distributed in hard copy to individual IFPs for use in their programs and the links to the online documents have been promoted through the National Immigrant Farming Initiative’s website and listserv, and the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Project’s listserve (HHS/ORR – RAPP project). The USDA NASS survey has been reviewed by the New Hampshire USDA office and is used in interactions with producers, and the Massachusetts counties of FSA have received copies of the Plain Language FSA loan application guide.

The brochures developed by NASAP and NESFP, noted above are currently being used for outreach to clients in communities in which they operate.

All documents are currently being translated into Spanish and are receiving a “face lift” through some graphic design work and improved formatting.

See Appendix A for evaluations pertaining to the Plain Language training.

Accomplishments
The Explorer content was recast into a short version, usable in a one-session course. The short course was tested by several IFPs with groups of farmer trainees, and was successful. The short course has been shared among IFPs, and has now been incorporated as a part of the curriculum.

IFPs agreed that an even more accessible and understandable written version of the Explorer workbook would be relevant to the IFP’s, since some version of this course material is currently being used for training by all IFP’s. As a result, IFPs decided to develop a Plain Language version of the independent Explorer workbook. This book was developed jointly by several IFPs (NY, and 2 projects in MA) and was reviewed by the author, Kate Hayes, in July 2008 who provided critical feedback. A final version of the Plain Language Explorer guide is still under revision with the author and the New England Small Farm Institute. A completed version is anticipated by fall 2008.
With permission from SARE, leftover funds from the Explorer training budget were shifted to the Anti-Racism budget line item, in order to conduct a follow-up anti-racism training, which was geared towards farmers (see “Cultural Diversity and Sensitivity Training”, below.)
Note, See Appendix A for Evaluations pertaining to the Explorer Course Training.
Accomplishments
Unfortunately, to date, there is little to report for accomplishments from having sent two IFP members through NxLevel instructor training. One IFP member from RI who took the course in Delaware in 2005 resigned from her position in early 2006 and to our knowledge, the course materials were not used in their IFP programming. The IFP member from MA who took the course in Maine in October 2007 plans to become an instructor for MDAR’s courses they offer twice annually after fully participating in the course as a student (the instructor course just introduced potential instructors to the standard curriculum). Once more familiar with the curriculum and experience serving as an instructor, she will lend additional experience with how this curriculum could be adapted to a low-literacy, beginning farmer audience.
With permission from SARE, leftover funds from the NxLevel training budget were shifted into the Anti-Racism budget line item, in order to conduct a training geared towards farmers (see “Cultural Diversity and Sensitivity Training”, below.)
Accomplishments
Since the training, all IFP’s work consistently to integrate the cross-cultural sensitivity concepts into their programs, operations and communications with farmers, staff and partners. Below are examples of some of the ways in which IFP’s have approached their follow up schemes.

One IFP developed an initial general plan and shared the plan with the group. The plan includes an assessment by each staff person of their role in the organization, and a review of gate-keeping functions and power analysis. The group conducted third-party interviews with farmers to identify gate-keeping functions and to determine how gate-keeping functions affect their operations. The project is in the process of developing a new strategic plan, which will include components from staff assessments, farmer interviews and general anti-racism initiatives.

Another IFP agreed to document how they will transfer the decision-making power from their committee to their farmers.

A third IFP was instrumental in coordinating the Anti-Racism training for farmers, which took place on January 29 – 30, 2007.
A fourth IFP is using the concepts learned in Anti-Racism training in day-to-day communications with farmers. Since this group does not have any staff, there are limited benefits in formalizing a written plan.

Note, see Appendix A for evaluations relating to the Anti-Racism training.

Accomplishments
Attendees agreed that the Curriculum Sharing Day was beneficial. IFPs expressed interest in scheduling a similar materials sharing meeting for the future to review organizational documents which outline relationships between IFP organizations and farmers. Materials to be reviewed will include contracts, rules, and loan protocol materials.

Accomplishments
Members have found that the NNIFP listserv and face-to-face interaction are better tools for management of NNIFP information. NNIFP members have found that in order for the NNIFP initiatives to move forward, a dialogue between members is necessary – which cannot be accomplished via the website. IFP’s have found that network meeting time and time before and after Professional Development trainings are the best times to discuss issues surrounding their work and to share materials.

At the same time, members have also relied heavily on the NNIFP listserv for communications. This list serve is used for posting of announcements, scheduling of events and circulation of media articles. The NNIFP listserv currently has 35 members.

Currently, the NNIFP site is mainly being used by non-NNIFP members, who access the public domain space to learn about NNIFP activities. The site is also being used as a means to archive the NNIFP developed plain language documents.

Accomplishments
The facilitated meeting on March 26, 2007 grew out of (a) a need for the network to re-evaluate its purpose and impact and (b) the result of new members joining the group. The need for this evaluation was an unexpected event during the funding period. As a result of the facilitated meeting, network members eventually established a revised set of purposes:

Primary Purpose: To work on issues important to farmers
Secondary Purposes:
(1) To share resources and information among groups
(2) To enhance professional development and invite people in. To combine and take advantage of mutual training opportunities.
(3) To share challenges and solutions of individual IFP’s with the network or seek advice from network members when solutions are not evident.
(4) To address dismantling racism within the network – to invest in ourselves so that we can think and operate better – to keep the learning of the training alive. To develop a proposal to address DR.

The group decided that they would delay options for request of additional funds to administer the network through a central IFP. At the same time, the group agreed to continue to exist and function, to write fund requests into their individual grant proposals (for travel, etc. for quarterly meetings), but not solicit other large grants at this time. The group decided that they would revisit fundraising options in the future.

During this grant period, the NNIFP expanded to include 2 additional member organizations. One is a group of Hmong farmers in Massachusetts, called the “Flats Mentor Farm.” The organizer of this project, Maria Moreira, is a previous staff person with the NESFP and the farmers she serves are graduates of NESFP’s training programs who have gone on to work directly with Maria, the landowner on an independent Heifer-funded project. The second new member is Farmers of the World, in Pennsylvania, formed by Hector Tejada, a graduate of the NY project. An additional partner organization, the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants (MORI) is also a new partner in the NNIFP as they have initiated another Refugee Agricultural Project in Massachusetts. Future expansion of the network could also include other refugee agriculture project supported through HHS’ Refugee Agricultural Partnership Project (RAPP) that is funding initiatives in Manchester, NH and Burlington, VT. There is also another group call Immigrants in Agriculture (IMMAG) forming through Lutheran Community Services in Springfield, MA. They are currently collaborating with Nuestras Raices in Holyoke. MA.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Potential Contributions

IFPs help aspiring immigrant farmers to develop sustainable agriculture enterprises. The NNIFP-sponsored professional development trainings have equipped staff and farmers with the tools they need to respond to one-another’s needs and the needs of their communities. These grant initiatives have had broad impact – affecting staff, farmers and their organizations in five New England states. In particular, the Anti-Racism Training and Plain Language training has changed the way staff and farmers communicate among one another and within their communities, thus strengthening the reach of IFPs. As more immigrant farmers join our programs in the future, and as they work with staff and existing farmers who have attended these trainings, the new farmers become additional beneficiaries of the professional development training strategies learned by IFP members when lessons learned are passed on.

In addition, the professional development training in Plain Language and Anti-Racism has equipped staff and farmers with a basic foundation on which to move forward for the future. Individual IFPs can use this new knowledge to leverage funding from other sources to further work the concepts of Plain Language and Anti-Racism strategies into their programs.

The Plain Language resources which are posted on the NNIFP site can be useful for any beginning farmer who wishes to access easily understandable training materials. The site could eventually be a valuable archival location for collection of additional Plain Language materials developed by IFPs outside of the Northeast region.

The network collaborations established have resulted in ongoing communications and resource sharing, which will continue beyond the term of this grant period. This resource sharing allows IFPs to more efficiently create training materials, and more effectively serve their constituents. As additional IFP’s are established in the Northeast, they will be invited to become active members of the NNIFP, and they will become the beneficiaries of this knowledge and resources sharing.

The NNIFP can be used as a model in other areas of the country where IFP’s are forming. NNIFP was the first such network, and lessons learned through our development could be valuable for the formation of similar networks elsewhere. Though the populations and languages will be different in other areas of the country, the basic strategies used by NNIFP will still apply. The National Immigrant Farming Initiative has been eager to replicate the Northeast’s success in connecting similar projects across the country. As more and more immigrant and refugee agricultural projects are formed across the country, the NNIFP serves as a valuable resource to emerging projects and the materials developed through this SARE funding can be shared widely.

Future Recommendations

Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects - Future Recommendations

Additional regional and collaborative work among IFPs in the Northeast beyond the scope of this grant will continue to be warranted in the future. Currently, there is increasing interest in forming new IFPs from several parts of the Northeast. For example, in NH a newly funded group, the International Institute, received funding from ORR/HHS’s Refugee Agricultural Partnership Project and will be looking to establish a new IFP in the Manchester, NH area. In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Office of Immigrants and Refugees is working to assist refugees in various parts of the state connect to farm employment opportunities and other farming resources. A group of Mutual Assistance Associations in Boston is looking at ways to begin urban agriculture projects for immigrants and refugees living in the city. And another group in Western Massachusetts is forming to begin a “Western Massachusetts Immigrants in Agriculture Project.” This creates more than six organizations in Massachusetts alone working to assist immigrant and refugee farmers in the state. More and more groups are forming throughout the Northeast. As new groups form, they will benefit most from the experience of established programs, such as those who have participated in the Northeast Network of Immigrant Farming Projects. Rather than “re-creating the wheel,” new groups can tap into the expertise and experience of this group and utilize the resources we have developed through joint professional training sponsored by SARE. It makes much more economic sense to fund a collaborative effort of joint professional development training for a group that has specific target audience needs rather than a dozen or more groups each trying to seek individual learning opportunities for their service provider staff and/or farmers. The group can maximize the training resources, optimize the time spent together to share strategies and resources collectively, and develop materials that are useful to all constituencies of the projects.

The project design used by the NNIFP, wherein a singular project applied for and receive the grant funding worked well initially. Each participating IFP agreed to participate in the project and contributed considerable in-kind time attending meetings, participating in planning conference calls, and following up with materials development outside of meetings. Over time, as new people entered the NNIFP or new groups formed, there was some question as to the equitable sharing of resources among all of the groups and how funding was to be allocated for coordination of NNIFP activities. Fortunately, these issues were addressed and resolved, but it also speaks to the need for clarity and group consensus in how a collaborative project will evolve over time as individuals and organizations come and go within a voluntary network organization. Overall, the relative geographic distance between projects works well in the Northeast, since distances traveled to meetings and joint trainings is reasonable. This may not be a project design that could work equally as well in other parts of the country depending on the travel budget and the geographic scope of participants.

Going forward, the NNIFP will continue to meet and share additional strategies and resources and continue to look for ways to collaborate and build on the shared experience inherent in working with a diverse audience of producers. Additional trainings for service providers working with these producers should be prioritized and more documentation on lessons learned would be an effective way to share knowledge and experience with new groups looking to establish programs in other parts of the country.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.