Agripreneur Training Center

2012 Annual Report for LNC10-325

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $166,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Kat Vann
Main Street Project
Edward Ritchie
Main Street Project

Agripreneur Training Center


The Agripreneur Training Center project focused on providing culturally compatible business and field training to aspiring low-income Latino immigrant farmers –- making it possible for them to launch their own free-range poultry operation as part of an integrated, sustainable agriculture system. Experience with the first class prompted the development of a unique post-training farm incubator program, including business planning and production coaching, financing and market connections, and transitional access to farm production units. This new training program component provides a continuum of support – increasing market and income potential over time, and improving their ability to succeed in the long-term.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The Agripreneur Training Center project is an experiential learning approach to developing sustainable farming and farm management skills among aspiring Latino immigrant farmers. It includes classroom business training and field-based activities that replicate actual farming conditions for raising free-range poultry as part of a larger sustainable agricultural system model. Technical assistance and mentoring relationships will provide additional support.

During the first year of the project, six to eight ‘agripreneurs’ will complete Spanish-language training with a newly developed culturally compatible curriculum that includes sustainable production protocols. Trainees will receive stipends to compensate for time lost from other jobs during training classes. Food products raised and grown during training will be shared with participants.

Participant progress and knowledge of classroom and fieldwork will be regularly assessed so that additional support can be provided, and to allow the training center to make needed adjustments to the curriculum and mentor arrangements. Stories, photos and results will be shared to support outreach to new participants, build awareness and support within the community, and engage potential partners and program supporters.


With the help of two experienced curriculum designers, we developed a Spanish-language farm business classroom training using a popular education format, and including an introductory field-training component.

Twenty-one participants successfully completed the training program and received stipends and processed chicken that was raised on the training farm site. Feedback gathered in one-on-one video interviews following graduation was used to improve the curriculum for the next class slated to begin Summer 2012.

Based on experiences with and feedback from trainees, we developed a unique farm incubator program for continuing support and learning. Students from the first training class and community volunteers helped construct a specially designed year-round poultry building, adapted to mimic free-range conditions in cold-weather months with a large indoor solarium that rarely requires heat.

The incubator program was piloted with one graduate, including business planning and production coaching, financing and market connections, and transitional access to year-round production units to gain farming experience. A new Grow a Farmer micro-loan fund was launched as a resource, offering no-collateral loans to help finance upfront costs of chicks and feed as new farmers-in-training raise their first flocks.

Based on those experiences, plans were put in place for additional incubator buildings to accommodate the next training classes, and for a grassroots community fundraising campaign for the Grow a Farmer fund. In addition, production protocols for trainees and graduates will be expanded to include system-related agricultural products.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Awareness of the new training program and farming opportunity increased significantly within the local Latino community as a result of the very large first training class. As one agripreneur trainee explained, “Over the years we’ve tried many different ways to secure a piece of land and achieve our farming dreams. The training has given us a renewed sense of opportunity.”

Out of the training class, four individuals have pursued ‘agripreneurial’ endeavors through our program: one with chickens and vegetables, one with garlic, and two with black beans. A fifth person has also expressed interest in beginning a poultry operation, but so far has found his work schedule to be an obstacle that he is working to overcome.

Not as many of the first training graduates were able to consider the first incubator opportunity as we would have hoped, possibly due to the fact that it was not immediately available following graduation, but also because there are many complexities and fluctuations in the day-to-day lives of low-income families. Families report that training stipends make a difference, as did the chickens they were able to take home. But we also learned that gas costs for relatively short travel distances to farm sites was a family budget concern for some – so that’s a consideration going forward.

Building awareness of and connections between farming graduate families and community members is another positive outcome. Building the first incubator site on a shared community farm space increased visibility and the opportunity for positive interactions – as did outreach to community volunteers and trainees to help with construction. The local food co-op and two local colleges also served as volunteer resources, and supported the beginnings of the Grow A Farmer fund. Community members are actively supporting the new farmers by purchasing poultry products from incubator farms through direct drop sites.


Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin

[email protected]
Project Coordinator
Main Street Project
105 4th Street East
Northfield, MN 55057
Office Phone: 9522018852