- Education and Training: decision support system, farmer to farmer, networking
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, community services, employment opportunities, leadership development, local and regional food systems, public participation, public policy, quality of life, social capital, social networks, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration
Our project seeks to establish a local chapter in Indiana of the National Young Farmer's Coalition. We have a burgeoning population of young and beginning farmers in our state who will benefit greatly from a more organized network of farming peers, called the Hoosier Young Farmer's Coalition. By building connection and comradery among the state's young and beginning farmers we hope to ensure as many farms as possible thrive in our state. In our first year we were able to organize almost 25 events and engage with over 800 Hoosier farmers. We think this demonstrates just how great the need is for such an organization in Indiana.
In our second and final year of the grant funding, the Hoosier Young Farmer Coalition continued to build on the platform we laid in 2017, strengthening the presence of the group in Indiana and building deeper connections among Indiana's young and beginning farmers and allied organizations. We originally formed HYFC to provide a designated space, both physical and virtual, in which young and beginning farmers could connect with each other and connect with resources to help build their farms. While Extension services existed in our state, at the time of our group's formation there was nothing geared specifically toward the upstart farmers among us. We set out to create a variety of different spaces in which young and beginning farmers could come and find good company and answers to questions, thereby gaining practical and emotional support that could help carry them through the first challenging years of starting and operating a farm.
We pursued this goal by hosting events, tabling at area farm and food conferences, advocating for our needs during the Farm Bill hearings and creating a website and social media accounts for HYFC. In general our research and educational approach to addressing our stated problem has been outreach - providing opportunities for communication and collaboration across the state. In 2018 we hosted 5 Young Farmer Mixers, sent 7 young farmers to talk with staffers at Senators Donnelly and Young's offices about the 2018 Farm Bill, distributed 4 e-newsletters to members, tabled at 6 farm/food conferences, created a classifieds ad on our website, and added an Instagram account to our social media efforts. We felt busy!
As we finish our second year as an organization, it's more and more clear how needed this kind of community and collaboration is among the young farmers in our state. We have a wonderful growing network of farmers and farmer allies and are starting to build a consistent community who are able to count on and look forward to annual events we are now hosting, like a Summer Potluck and Young Farmer After Party at the Indiana Small Farms Conference. I would argue that a number of farmers have adopted the practice of coming together and socializing at least a couple of times of year because of this group. It feels like momentum and enthusiasm for our group is building both among young farmers and other organizations who are interested in partnering with us on various initiatives and programming. We've laid a strong base that we hope to keep building on for a long time.
The project objectives are simply to build community and comradery among young and beginning farmers in Indiana. We have a growing population of such farmers, as well as a growing population of folks interested in farming, and we seek to connect and encourage these folks. Farming can be isolating and challenging, and we feel connection with other folks going through the same stages of start up can significantly improve a farmer's chance of making it through the first few years into an established, thriving farm. We propose to address this issue by providing ample opportunities throughout the year, via social media and via old fashioned get togethers, for farmers to get together and socialize. We believe from these social networks a powerful professional network of farmers sharing ideas and strategies will be built.