New Entry Sustainable Farming Project transitioning farmer program

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $133,468.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Jennifer Hashley
Trustees of Tufts College / New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, cabbages, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Animal Production: grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, indicators, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, chemical control, competition, compost extracts, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, integrated pest management, mulches - living, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, prevention, sanitation, trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, holistic management
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (NESFP) assists recent immigrants with agricultural experience to begin farming Massachusetts. We will design and pilot test a Transitioning Farmer Program to assist new entry immigrant farmers to progress toward independent and sustainable farming operations. In 2005 – 2006, 20-25 farmers will develop holistically-based transitioning farm enterprise plans that incorporate specific objectives across all key areas of farm enterprise development, and indicators of progress for each. In tandem, NESFP will develop and pilot a transitioning farmer training and technical assistance (T&TA) program. Core components include 6-8 workshops each year covering farm enterprise planning, business planning /management, sustainable/organic crop production practices, post-harvest handling, and direct marketing. In-season trainings will include farm-based workshops, regional farm tours, and local agricultural conferences. Farmers will each receive up to 10 hours per month in technical assistance to address all components of their transitional farming plans. Complementing this will be four NESFP initiatives that address key areas where farmers are most challenged to succeed on their own: (a) Staff and partners will assist farmers to identify and secure farms or farmland for sale or lease and assess land suitability and site improvements needs; (b) NESFP will establish two new organically-farmed training sites; (c) in 2005 we will establish centralized facilities to improve handling, washing, storage, cooling, packaging, and transportation of crops; and, (d) we will also initiate a marketing cooperative in 2005 for use by beginning and independent farmers. Evaluation will address the effectiveness of all project activities, and assess how well participating farmers meet their objectives and establish independent operations. Of 40 immigrant farmers who graduate our initial training courses between 2004-2006, 20-25 will participate in this 3-year program. Of these, 8-10 will achieve independent farm operations, and another 8-10 will make significant progress towards achieving a viable farming operation.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of 40 immigrant farmers who graduate our initial training courses between 2004-2006, 20-25 will participate in a 3-year Transitioning Farmer Program to develop sustainable farming enterprises. Of these, 8-10 will achieve independent farm operations, and another 8-10 will make significant progress towards achieving a viable farming operation. This will help to establish environmentally sustainable and economically viable farming enterprises, wherein recent immigrants succeed as part of the next generation of farmers in Massachusetts. In 2005-2006, 20-25 participating farmers will develop individual transitioning farmer enterprise plans, including specific objectives and indicators of progress for establishing independent farm enterprises within 2-3 years. In tandem, these 20-25 farmers will participate in a new transitioning farmer training and technical assistance (T&TA) program, beginning in 2005. They will build knowledge and skills through workshops, farm visits, and participation in farm conferences and meetings. Farmers will receive up to 10 hours a month of consultations to address their strategies and problems toward meeting their farm enterprise plan objectives. Transitioning and independent farmers will improve product quality and marketing through access to centralized post-harvest handling facilities and through participation in a new marketing cooperative, both beginning in 2005. NESFP will help farmers locate independent farmsites, assess remediation needs, and plan site improvements. At least 2 farmers are expected to move onto independent sites by mid-2006, 3-5 by mid 2007, and 3-5 by mid-2008. Another 12-15 will make significant progress by the end of the project, based on indicators in their transitional plans. We will evaluate each farmer’s progress in meeting objectives and indicators, both during the project period and at the end. We will also determine and characterize how many farmers achieve genuine independent status, using reasonably objective criteria for assessing what constitutes a sustainable farming enterprise.

    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.