The ability to bring in new farmers is critical to the agriculture industry. It can be difficult to start a farming operation and new farmers have a tough time getting established. However, sensational opportunities exist in farming for those who can seize the local food movement. Delaware is fortunate to be within driving distance to major metropolitan areas with a diverse ethnic population along with many local farmers markets. Sales from all twenty-five (25) Delaware community-run farmers’ markets for the year 2016 totaled 2.9 million dollars.
Sustainable agriculture and the local food movement offer some of the best opportunities for beginning farmers. Beginning farmers tend to be first generation farmers with no farming background and can be of any age. New farmers have different needs than established farmers. Beginning farmers generally lack the knowledge and scale of operation compared to established farmers.
This three-year initiative will provide education to people who are considering starting a small farm. Many of the operators are starting or are deciding if this is a right career field. Beginning farmers improve their chances of succeeding when they base their new enterprises on thorough planning and realistic goals.
A recent survey of Ag professionals has demonstrated that interest is significant enough to do the programming. Our Fruit and Vegetable Specialist has indicated that each year he receives thirty plus inquiries from clientele that are interested in starting a farm or adding a new crop to an existing operation. For example, in the last six months he has advised five (5) farms new to tree fruits, Three (3) growers new to cut flowers and a farm converting a hay field to vegetable production. Another extension agent indicated that in the last two years he has had more inquires about starting a farm than in his first nine years.
Performance targets from proposal:
Five (5) agriculture service providers who increase knowledge and skills in beginning a vegetable farm will provide educational programs and service, including but not limited to workshops, presentations, other educational materials and individual consultations to seventy-five (75) producers who manage seventy-five (75) fruit and vegetable acres.