Growing Farmers Training Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $164,676.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Ingrid Kirst
Community CROPS

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: berries (brambles), berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, workshop
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    The Growing Farmers Training Program will provide training and technical assistance to limited resource farmers in Southeast Nebraska to grow and sell sustainable agricultural products. The project, coordinated by Ingrid Kirst, Executive Director of Community CROPS, brings together existing farmers, extension staff, and area farm training programs to help beginning farmers successfully grow increasingly larger amounts of food and market it locally. Outcomes include 80 new and existing farmers receiving training per year, with 40 applying these skills, including 10-15 at the CROPS training farm each year. Long term the project seeks to have 20 limited-resource producers farming independently on their own land or land with a long-term lease, to increase the amount of local produce and to keep agriculture land in sustainable production.

    Lincoln is a mid-sized city with a high number of immigrants and refugees, who along with many other residents lack the resources to begin farming, despite having a desire and the skills to grow food. There is a rapidly growing consumer demand for local foods, although access to land is a significant barrier for limited-resource farmers.

    This proposal will meet the needs of limited-resource farmers by providing experiential learning in groups and one-on-one, and access to land for beginning producers. Over a three-year period, producers will gain skills and resources they need to transition onto their own property. Outputs include 8-12 workshops per year, one-on-one field walks, summer field trainings, exchanges with area programs, a demonstration farm site, a farm program advisory committee and a large CSA. Multiple data points will be tracked to demonstrate the efficacy of the program including class evaluations, numbers of participants, increase in sales and completed business documents.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-Term Outcomes
    1. 80 new and existing farmers per year will gain increased knowledge and skills in sustainable business management, marketing, and production techniques and systems through workshops and field days.
    2. 150 families will purchase Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares each year, with produce supplied by participants and the demonstration farm (30% growth from the current size).
    3. 10-15 limited-resource producers per year will access land at the CROPS farm to begin their farm business. They will gain skills and experience in organic production, farm management and marketing through field walks, marketing support and one-on-one planning meetings.
    4. Gross earnings from farming of individual beginning, limited-resource producers will be at least $1000 in their first year, at least $4000 in their second year, and third-year farmers will earn at least $6500.
    5. 25-35 regional limited-resource producers per year will share stories and knowledge with one another.
    6. Farm Advisory Committee provides consultation on needs and opportunities for project.

    Intermediate-Term Outcomes
    1. 40 new and existing farmers per year will apply sustainable management, marketing or production skills learned to their small farm business.
    2. 10 limited-resource producers will earn income for three years from farming, qualifying them to file a Schedule F for income taxes and establish 3 years of growing history. This is the eligibility requirement to apply for a Farm Ownership Loan through the Farm Service Agency.
    3. 4-6 additional service providers will be identified and receive support from CROPS staff on how to better meet the needs of limited-resource producers (USDA, Extension).

    Long-Term Outcomes
    1. 20 limited-resource producers will realize their farm goals through long-term leases or farm ownership.
    2. Supply of local, organic and sustainable produce will increase for the local community.
    3. 3 socially-disadvantaged producer referrals will be made for Farm Ownership Loans and/or Operating Loans through the Farm Service Agency
    4. Agricultural land will be maintained in sustainable farming.

    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.