- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, mentoring, networking, workshop, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns, e-commerce, agricultural finance, risk management
- Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture
- Soil Management: soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, social networks, sustainability measures
When the phone rings at the Cornell Small Farms Program, it’s most often the inquiring voice of a beginning farmer. The voices in this rapidly growing audience are increasingly diverse- young, mature, recently graduated or retired- wanting to farm on city plots, the urban fringes, or in rural areas. Emerging among them are voices seeking role models and representation: minorities, veterans, and urban growers. As beginning farmer support organizations (BFSOs), we help transform the dreams of these diverse callers into successful businesses that contribute to a vibrant farm and food economy.
Over the past several years, BFSOs have sprouted up across the Northeast, aiming to meet the need of beginning farmers (BFs) for quality resources, training and mentoring. It is no less critical that these organizations receive similar mentoring and access to the growing wealth of quality resources produced research and extension programs around the Northeast as well as the curricula and proven approaches of the entire collective of BFSOs. We created this collaborative learning platform in 2009, through the Northeast BF Learning Network. While the Network is now pulsing with interactivity and has bolstered support and services to many BF audiences, BFSO’s continue to need advanced training and program development support to improve services to those farms operating for 2 to 7 years. Many BFSOs are not part of traditional extension ‘train the trainer’ programs, yet they provide critical support and education to new farmers.
This NESARE PDP project will advance BFSO skills and abilities by:
1) providing advanced training in several critical BF knowledge gaps (business and financial management, organic farming, whole farm planning and soil health) as well as new BF resources and improved curriculum, and
2) provide unique learning opportunities that address BFSO priorities for enhancing service to underserved populations (e.g. minorities, women, youth and military veterans).
This vibrant Learning Network of BFSOs will foster peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, resource sharing, and long term sustainability of efforts and improve skills and strategies for delivering effective training to all BFs. After incorporating new curricula, resources and information gained through this PDP training, 45 BFSO participants report that 600 beginning farmers made changes to farm plans or management to improve sustainability. As a result improved cultural competencies and engagement strategies learned through this PDP training, BFSOs report 100 new BF clients of diverse race, gender, age and ethnicity or military veterans are actively participating in their training programs.
Performance targets from proposal:
Our project will: 1) strengthen BFSO programs through advanced technical training on four priorities identified by BF and BFSOs; and 2) improve BFSO cultural competencies to engage underserved BF audiences. BFSOs’ will deliver advanced programing in business and financial management, soil health, whole farm planning and organic production to support the needs of established as well as culturally diverse new farmers. Advanced technical information will be complemented with curriculum reviews and teaching methods to insure educators will have meaningful impact on their BF audiences. Our success will be measured in two ways. First, we will support careful evaluation of improved training programs implemented by BFSOs, to quantify improve BF skills. Second,we will assess changes in the demographics of the BFs served by these BFSOs, with the goal of reaching a more culturally, socially and economically diverse audience.
Performance Targets: After incorporating new curricula, resources and information gained through this PDP training, 45 BFSO participants report that 600 beginning farmers made changes to farm plans or management to improve sustainability. As a result improved cultural competencies and engagement strategies learned through this PDP training, BFSOs report 100 new BF clients of diverse race, gender, age and ethnicity or military veterans are actively participating in their training programs.