- Education and Training: mentoring, youth education
- Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, public participation, community development
This project was designed and written to work with educators and communities to expand/replicate the farmer training program, Farm Beginnings. Farm Beginnings is a program available through the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota. This successful training program works with beginning farmers and with farmers wishing to transition to more sustainable methods of farming. The Minnesota program recently completed its tenth year of programming in Minnesota, and more than 400 individuals have participated, with over 60% now farming.
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Two courses were offered in Illinois in different geographic areas and through different organizations. These were the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings (collaboratively sponsored by the University of Illinois and Land Connection), and Stateline Farm Beginnings, sponsored by the CSA Learning Center near the state line of Illinois and Wisconsin. Farm Beginnings courses were also launched in Southeast Nebraska and Southern Missouri.
Each of the four 2005/06 Farm Beginnings courses was reported as very successful by participants, facilitators, and communities. Central Illinois and Stateline Illinois offered and successfully completed courses in 2006/07 and will offer Farm Beginnings again in 2007/08 for a third year. Nebraska did not offer a course in 2006/07, but hopes to offer Farm Beginnings in the future. Missouri, while reporting success for their initial course, opted not to offer Farm Beginnings beyond the pilot year. Further detail on each site is included in the following narrative.