Beginning Farmer Business Training and Education Partnership Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $135,630.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Judith Fuller
New England Small Farm Institute

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, analysis of personal/family life, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Beginning Farmer Business Training and Education Partnership Project

    The aim of this Education Partnership Project is to identify and mentor service providers in the use of New England Small Farm Institute’s farmer-tested business training and education tools, thereby enhancing their services for Northeast’s aspiring farmers and early-stage farmer businesses. It builds on existing relationships that have developed spontaneously around NESFI’s Exploring the Small Farm Dream program – a suite of learning tools that includes an Exploring the Small Farm Dream short course and decision-making workbook and its sequel, The Small Farm Planner, a self-directed farm planning research guide.

    NESFI now seeks to more proactively identify training and education partners throughout the region whose own constituents can benefit from the Explorer program. As a first step in recruiting program partners, NESFI will review program offerings of the approximately 200 organizations listed as Growing New Farmer Northeast Service Providers’ Consortium members, seeking out and documenting those whose missions most closely match the needs of its target constituency. It is appropriate that the program be delivered to new farmers in their own localities by service providers – including other farmers – who know local conditions and resources. From this initial group of 200, it is anticipated that a core group of thirty organizations (15%) will meet NESFI’s program partner criterion of active constituency engagement and elect to partner in program delivery. Partnership will include attendance at a 2 ½ day training/dialogue on constituency characteristics, needs and interests. Ten will receive a full year of mentored practice in program development and delivery, including on-site coaching as appropriate. Participating partners will evaluate the Project’s success in meeting target constituency needs.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Milestones and Performance Target

    Milestone 1: From an initial group of 200 Northeast service provider organizations with beginning farmer interests, a core group of thirty will elect to partner with NESFI in delivering the Exploring the Small Farm Dream short course and/or mentoring aspiring or early-stage farmers in self-study of the Explorer workbook and new Small Farm Planner planning research guide. Eight months.
    Milestone 2: The core group of thirty will attend a 2 ½ day training in using the Explorer and Planner decision-making and research tools, offered in the classroom and/or in one-on-one mentored settings (one training event in each sub-region). Three months.
    Milestone 3: A core group of ten will elect to participate in a year-long training practicum – mentored practice in planning and delivering the full Explorer short course and/or guiding self-study users of Explorer and Planner tools. The practicum will include on-site coaching, web-based support, and agreement to present one or more “best practices” at a follow-up session for the larger core group. Twelve months.
    Milestone 4: The core group of thirty will attend a one-day “best practices” follow-up session (one in each sub-region) and undertake ongoing peer review of a Partners’ Program Delivery Guide incorporating best practices and lessons learned. Eight months.
    Performance Target: From an initial group of 200 Northeast service providers with beginning farmer interests, thirty will elect to partner with NESFI in delivering Exploring the Small Farm Dream and Small Farm Planner decision-making and planning tools and ten will receive mentored practice in program delivery, thereby increasing their ability to provide aspiring and early stage farmers with support in business decision-making and start-up planning research. Project duration: Thirty one months.

    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.