Beginning Farmer Program: Evaluation and Expansion

2005 Annual Report for LNC01-192

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $96,430.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Federal Funds: $1,560.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $106,660.00
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Karen Stettler
Land Stewardship Project

Beginning Farmer Program: Evaluation and Expansion


Farm Beginnings™, begun in southeast Minnesota, was successfully expanded to western Minnesota. Combined, a total of 102 participants have enrolled since the beginning of the grant. Over 60% of the graduates are actively farming. The on-farm mentor program has been designed to accommodate different needs through farm tours, peer groups, and one-on-one mentorships. A third party evaluation of Farm Beginnings™ was conducted. Past Farm Beginnings™ participants and steering committee members stated the program exceeded their expectations. They also gave feedback to further enhance the program. Final reviews and edits have been made on the Farm Beginnings curriculum. The curriculum is being piloted in four new sites.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Current Work

Outcome 1) Strengthen the Farm Beginnings™ program and disseminate information to others:

Compile and prepare an evaluation report and support documents

Outcome 2) LSP staff has prepared the materials on the “Nuts and Bolts” of starting and maintaining the program.


After much work and many revisions, the Farm Beginnings™ curriculum has taken its final form. The curriculum is composed of two main parts: the Instructor Resources (nuts and bolts of starting a Farm Beginnings™ program), and the guide to the Classroom Sessions (specific written curriculum for each session.) The Instructor Resources section has undergone considerable reworking and editing.

The Classroom Sessions component was developed to provide the nuts and bolts of each class. It is used by Land Stewardship Project Farm Beginnings™ staff, and is also being shared with other programs that are adopting the training course. Staff have decided to include class overviews to help illustrate what happens during each session. It will include the objectives, agendas, discussion points and activities that comprise the Farm Beginnings™ classes. The ultimate goal of this piece is to enable replication of specific Farm Beginnings™ sessions.

In the past year, staff has finished a final edit of Instructor Resources and the Classroom Session, had the curriculum reviewed by others, submitted it to our graphic designer/publisher and it is now in final form ready for printing.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We are testing the Instructor Resources and Classroom Sessions as we engage in our most recent SARE grant: A Tri-State Expansion: Educator Training Using the Farm Beginnings™ Model. The Instructor Resources have been used and we are excited to be able to evaluate how useful the information was and how best to present it.

The evaluation from the four Farm Beginnings™ programs piloted in three states has been positive. The Farm Beginnings™ courses begun on October 2005 are entering the on-farm component and conversations, interviews, meetings with facilitators, presenters, mentors and participants have given valuable insight, confirming the Farm Beginnings™ model is sound, and sharing ideas that will help the transfer of this model elsewhere.


Chuck Schwartau

Goodhue Extension U of M
MN 55066
John Baker

Beginning Farmer Center
IA 50167
Helene Murray

U of M Misa
MN 55108