Supporting a Central Texas Sustainable Farm Incubator Collaborative

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2024: $77,032.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2025
Grant Recipients: Farmshare Austin; Austin Community College; Green Gate Farms; Hope Full Farm; Boggy Creek Farm
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Michelle Akindiya
Farmshare Austin
Savannah Rugg
Austin Community College


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

In Travis County, Texas, <0.5%
of all food consumed is locally grown. Farmshare Austin (FSA) and
Austin Community College - Elgin (ACC) are changing that by
educating, training and mentoring aspiring and working farmers in
sustainable, organic and regenerative practices.

FSA and ACC, in partnership with
three other farms (collectively Central Texas Sustainable Farm
Incubator Collaborative, the Incubator Collaborative), are
developing an incubator program for Texas farmers. A farm
incubator provides affordable access to land, infrastructure and
training for the purpose of honing skills and launching farm
businesses. Incubator programs are vital to the survival of new
farms in Central Texas. Travis County loses 16.8 acres of
farmland every day, contributing to prohibitively expensive costs
for purchasing or leasing viable farmland. 

This project will require
additional training for the organizations involved. At the 2024
National FIELD School, the Principal Investigator and
Co-Investigator will learn from established incubator programs,
supporting the development of an effective program. Lessons
learned at the FIELD School will be shared with other Texas farm
educators, farm service providers and experienced farmers who
want to mentor new farmers.

FSA and ACC’s attendance at the
FIELD School will support the development of a stronger incubator
program, and the outreach following the FIELD School will share
information about the possibility of a future Central Texas farm
incubator and build a stronger and more effective community of
local mentor farmers. Ultimately, the future incubator will
create and support more local farmers producing more sustainably
grown food for consumers.

Project objectives from proposal:

The goals of this project are to
increase the number of successful new sustainable farmers in
Central Texas by developing a farm incubator program modeled
after the best practices of established farm incubator programs
around the country and to improve the mentorship skills of
experienced farmers in our community.

The objectives of this grant
project are:

Objective 1: Expand knowledge and
understanding of successful farm incubators for Incubator
Collaborative mentor farmers based on the knowledge and
information gained from attending the 2024 NIFTI & AgALN National
FIELD School.

Objective 2: Increase the farm
mentorship skills of Incubator Collaborative mentor farmers, farm
service providers and other farmers interested in mentoring new
farmers, with particular focus on skills in diversity, equity and

Objective 3: Provide a clear
pathway for the Central Texas Sustainable Farm Incubator project
via development of a strategic plan in cooperation with the
Incubator Collaborative.

The target audience for outreach
about this project is the members of the Central Texas Incubator
Collaborative, as well as other local mentor farmers, trainers
and farm service providers. Community partners, students and
other local sustainable farmers will also have the opportunity to
offer critical feedback on the development of the future
incubator program. The outreach audience will gain knowledge
about how farm incubators work, why they are beneficial, and what
can help a farm incubator succeed, and will collaboratively
envision what a Central Texas sustainable farm incubator program
could look like, including how it might support local sustainable
farmers past the initial incubation stage. The outreach audience,
specifically other mentor farmers, will also increase their
knowledge about how to better support the local farming community
in their mentor capacity.

This training and outreach is
essential to the development of the Central Texas Sustainable
Farm Incubator project. This program will increase equity in the
Central Texas sustainable agriculture community by reducing the
barriers faced by new and beginning farmers as they start their
farm businesses. It will also increase the amount of sustainable,
organic farming taking place in the region as it will be
primarily operated by FSA, a certified organic farm, and all
participants will learn USDA organic standards compliance.

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.