Multi-Cultural Farmer Mentors

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $99,880.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Thomas Guthrie, Jr
Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Systems

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans, wheat
  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), cherries, peaches, pears, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: beans, cabbages, cucurbits, greens (leafy), peppers, tomatoes, turnips
  • Animals: bovine, swine


  • Education and Training: technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, social networks, sustainability measures


    The Multi-Cultural Farmer Mentor project supported the profitability of minority farming through identification and training of six mentor minority farmers paired with mentees by developing increased awareness and participation in SARE, other USDA projects and programs, and the development of whole farm conservation

    Outcomes: 1) Mentors- developed enhanced leadership skills and visibility; 2) Mentees- increased farm management, marketing and production skills and strengthened farming community linkages; 3) Majority farming community increased awareness of minority farmers’ contributions; 4) Maintained/ enhanced current minority farming operations; 5) Increased economic viability and stability of Michigan minority farming operations; 6) Raised awareness and significantly improved their natural resource base.


    The SARE 2002-2004 Mentor Farmer Project was developed to help minority farm families by pairing them with successful farmers who would address the particular needs of that struggling and/or beginner farmer. The plan was for the mentor to work with the mentee to establish goals and help them achieve these goals towards successful farming operations. Through the project all participants would become more aware of USDA, Extension, SARE and other available programs available to them. The project was also meant to give the area population awareness of the agriculture community within it.

    Project objectives:

    This Multi-Cultural Farmer Mentor project supported and improved the profitability of African-American and Hispanic/Latino and small family farming operations via mentoring and increased awareness of minority farmers within Michigan. These objectives were reached by: 1) Identifying and supporting six African-American or Hispanic/Latino farmer mentors; 2) Selecting six mentee families per year for two years from identified interested families; 3) Engaging in intensive mentoring of the farm families; 4) Supporting mentors via a mentor coordinator, quarterly meetings, training, organizational involvements, and whole farm conservation plans; 5) Supporting mentees via farm visits, SARE-developed course “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity,” other training, developing and implementing business and marketing plans, increasing organizational involvement, publishing farm profile, providing information about various USDA programs, and developing whole farm conservation plans; 6)Assessing and documenting progress.

    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.