- Education and Training: workshop, technical assistance
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, community development
The lack of farm transfer planning in New England is a major factor in the loss of working farms and farmland. This loss detracts from New England’s rural character and quality of life. To address the unavailability of this essential service, the Farm Transfer Planning Network of New England (FTPNNE) proposes to promote the practice by involving, informing and linking three groups; owners of farmland, professionals engaged or becoming engaged in farm transfer planning, and community development practitioners positioned to support farm preservation efforts.
The project’s objectives are to develop the FTPNNE website’s community development section and databases for both professional referral and downloadable resources. The proposed outreach project will increase awareness among all three groups by means of brochures and community meetings on the topic. The website will focus on those aspects of farm transfer planning connected of interest to all three groups and link directly to community economic development, natural resource management, and the enhancement of rural quality of life through preservation of New England’s working landscape.
FTPNNE is a low-budget, ongoing project that grew out of the four year old, independently funded, Transferring The Farm workshop series. The series has reached some 700 participants, completed ten sessions and has four more scheduled for 2006. FTPNNE is supported by in-kind support from its organizers and participants along with sliding scale contributions from network participants.
Many workshop participants—farmers and service providers alike–have commented that finding assistance with farm transfer planning is their major obstacle in planning for farm futures. This project addresses that difficulty.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Conduct outreach to farm family and farmland owner clients: Our performance targets are: the number of farm families, farmland owners, and community groups who learn about farm transfer and our network, contact a provider for farm transfer planning assistance; and learn from our educational materials. We will measure this from: numbers of visits to the website (target is 1,000 visits within 6 months of launching the website and disseminating brochures); number of contacts by clients and groups within 6 months of the completion of the project (target is 250); and collecting feedback from a sample of farm families and community groups about the materials they received (target is 70% of contacts report increased awareness, use of tools or steps taken). More intensive feedback will be obtained from our three community “pilots”, drawing qualitative, anecdotal information from participants.
2. Build support teams and referral services: The performance target will be the completion of 12 farm transfer plans (from at least three states) within 12 months of the end of the project. We will measure this by documenting completed plans. The plans will demonstrate participation by a range of groups and service providers (from within network and, possibly without) using a team approach in each case. We will collect feedback from all client families/landowners and from participating groups and providers about the effectiveness and challenges of the planning process. This will tell us the extent to which the client audiences – farm families, stakeholder groups and service providers — have benefited from the project. An intermediate outcome is the creation of the referral infrastructure that enables the assembly of effective support teams.
3. Develop and disseminate educational materials related to farm transfer: Our performance target will be a complete collection of materials available on line or by hard copy. We will measure this by cataloguing, documenting the collection.
4. Build community awareness and offer training: Our performance targets are: increased knowledge and skills of at least 50 providers who are and will likely remain in farm transfer; and increased knowledge and awareness of at least 6 groups in each of three communities in three states. We will measure these increases by surveying participants’ levels of awareness and knowledge before and after the workshops, trainings and website usage.
Overall, we will verify that our client audience has benefited from the project by collecting feedback from clients who have worked with one or more service providers in our network in the six months following the end of the project. We will ask: how they found the provider, what materials they found useful, how they judge their farm transfer planning process, what the outcome of their planning process was, and suggestions for improvements to the new “system”. This will provide us not only with outcome data but also with feedback for course corrections as we further develop our collective ability to assist with farm business transfer.