Agroecology Commons (AC) serves beginning farmers and agroecological educators working to amplify farming practices that enhance food sovereignty and sustainable farming. Professional development funds will support AC’s and Contra Costa Resouce Conservation District (CCRCD) staff and farm educators to deepen their understanding of sustainable agriculture, and in order to enhance educational programming focused on natural resource management, food production, farmer wellness, and cooperative economic development.
This proposal takes a unique multi-disciplinary and multi-organizational approach by deepening collaboration between the CCRCD and AC, a non-profit community-led organization. AC is composed of agricultural producers and community leaders and is working hand in hand with CCRCD staff to deepen educational/extension support for farmers seeking to enhance sustainable farming practices and affirm agriculture as a viable career choice.
As the principal grant applicant, Agroecology Commons (AC) is recognized as a leader within the local food movement, stewarding 3-acres of their own farm, training beginning farmers through the Bay Area Farmer-to-Farmer Training (BAFFT), facilitating farmer-to-farmer apprenticeships and skillshares, and organizing robust farmer and cooperative market partnerships. Through BAFFT, AC coordinates a network of over 30 educators, farmers, agricultural specialists, scientists, and food sovereignty organizers, who offer modules in their areas of expertise.
In order to strengthen these programs, which have trained over 80 beginning farmers over the last 2 years, the WSARE grant will support program facilitators, farm educators, technical assistance provides through leadership/facilitation training, the development, of course, material/ curriculum content, and professional development opportunities that enhance technical sustainable farming skills
Through carefully curated and farmer-led programming, such as the Bay Area Farmer-to-Farmer Training (BAFFT), we contribute to cultivating a just and equitable food system. Our programs are open to all underserved farmers and focus on farmers who are Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, multiracial, and/or people of color (QTBIMPOC).
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: Increase skills and technical knowledge of coordinating and executing an educational incubator farm and apprenticeship program for beginning farmers by providing professional development to AC staff through the National Farm Incubator Training Initiative (NIFTI).
Objective 2: Support the ongoing development and expansion of Agroecology Commons’ on-farm apprenticeship program through curriculum module development, and one-on-one farm mentor training for host farms.
Objective 3: Train the trainers to provide leadership, facilitation, and technical training for a network of farm educators and AC staff who currently host the Bay Area Farmer-to-Farmer Training (BAFFT) and practice the campesino-a-campesino methodology in order to strengthen community-based agroecological learning in the Bay Area.
Objective 4: Support curriculum and course material development for the Bay Area Farmer-to-Farmer Training (BAFFT) which provides beginning farmers with comprehensive on-farm vocational training, a network of farm mentors, and interactive online coursework.
Objective 5: Increase AC Staff’s ag professionals’ sustainable agriculture knowledge around beekeeping by effectively being able to communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators within educational programming in order to serve as mentors for other beginning beekeepers.
Objective 6: Enhance the business development module of the Bay Area Farmer-to-Farmer training by having AC staff/ farmers participate in professional development that supports training farmers in marketing plans, crop planning, budgeting, and other elements of creating a cohesive farm business plan.
Objective 7: Provide funding for four CCRCD Technical Assistance Providers to attend 3-6 workshops, courses, or trainings across the grant period on related culturally relevant sustainable agriculture.