Bringing the UMass Mentor Farm Model to Urban Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $116,251.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2026
Grant Recipient: UMass Extension
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
State Coordinator:
Clem Clay
UMass Extension


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: nutrient management, season extension
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, technical assistance
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will develop a Mentor Farm model within the new
    UMass Extension Urban Agriculture initiative. It will identify
    three Mentor Farms per year for three years who will receive
    stipends, soil and disease diagnostic services, and intensive
    education from Extension Urban Agriculture Educators and experts
    in disciplines including soil health, pest management, and
    horticulture. In exchange, the Mentor Farms will host on-farm
    education events for other urban farmers and service providers,
    as well as provide key feedback and guidance to UMass Extension.

    Mentor Farms will be BIPOC-run and/or BIPOC-serving, as will many
    participants in on-farm events. UMass Extension personnel will
    have opportunities for anti-racist training designed to help them
    unlearn some biases and approach their engagement with new
    audiences with respect and humility.

    We anticipate that in addition to the three farms per year we
    engage with intensively, 6 on-farm events per year will
    attract at least 20 participants per event, or 120 per year. We
    also expect to direct 20 inquiries per year to each Mentor Farm,
    or 60 in total. These extended audiences will be comprised
    primarily of individuals who are both farmers and service
    providers, and who are BIPOC and/or working in BIPOC-serving

    Key objectives of the project are to: (1) build trust between
    UMass Extension and those who support urban agricultural
    practitioners; (2) improve UMass Extension’s ability to deliver
    expertise to new audiences in a respectful way; (3) demonstrate
    material benefits of Extension expertise to urban farmers; and
    (4) support peer-to-peer learning within urban agriculture


    Performance targets from proposal:

    Over 3 years, 9 Mentor Farms represented by at least 9 ASP’s will
    gain comprehensive science-based farming knowledge that improves
    productivity and efficiency of farm operations, and results in
    increased knowledge and improved practices for participating
    employees, volunteers, and trainees whose number are too
    difficult to predict. In Collaboration with UMass Extension,
    these 9 Mentor Farms will educate 120 ASP’s and 240 urban farmers
    at on-farm events, resulting in reported increases in knowledge
    of relevant farming topics and expected behavior change that can
    lead to greater resource efficiency, productivity and food
    safety. Of those 120 ASP’s and 240 farmers reached, we expect at
    least 30 to subsequently report that they have passed knowledge
    they learned on to at least 50 other urban farmers. Finally, we
    expect at least 6 Extension personnel to participate in DEI
    training and to subsequently use best practices in engaging
    with  urban farming audiences.

    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.