The FACTS (Farmers Addressing Challenges Through Training and Science) project will disseminate the outcomes of at least five SARE research projects that explored soil building and enhancement, including drought resilience, through the use of cover crops, no-till, solar tarping, and biomimicry, and their subsequent suggested sustainable agricultural practices, to beginning farmers through hands-on trainings, workshops and mentorship in Colorado and New Mexico. Beginning farmer trainings will be provided through the lead applicant, GoFarm, in Colorado. Post-training, stipend-supported mentorships will be provided by project partner, the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN),with a focus on supporting women and non-binary beginning farmers in Colorado and New Mexico.
The FACTS project will begin in April of 2023, and run for 18 months, through October, 2024, and will use the established infrastructures of GoFarm’s Beginning Farmer Training Program (BFTP) and Whole Farm Planning Course (WFPC) as well as WFAN’s Harvesting Our Potential (HOP) mentorship program.
GoFarm’s Beginning Farmer Training Program (BFTP) will provide agricultural and entrepreneurial training to aspiring farmers looking to launch their own farm businesses. GoFarm’s BFTP includes a 2-year Incubator Farmer program and the 16-week WFPC. WFPC classes are taught by local farmers, tailoring Western SARE research and other publications to provide regionally-specific guidance for starting a farming business in the Denver metropolitan area. Local farmers further support BFTP participants through GoFarm’s paid mentorship program. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, GoFarm also coordinates 12 on-farm workshops to supplement in-class learning during the WFPC.
WFAN’s Harvesting Our Potential (HOP) will provide access to 1) paid mentorships; 2) virtual educational events; and, 3) networking opportunities for aspiring or beginning women and non binary (WNB) farmers/ ranchers in the Western SARE region. Participants will build skills, relationships, and confidence to become successful growers.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Break down barriers to becoming a farm owner/operator by providing hands-on training and support, including business skills, to beginning farmers looking to start their own farming operation
- Assist 5 farmers annually with launching their own farming business through GoFarm’s Incubator Farmer program
- Provide holistic farm business plan development services to up to 15 individuals annually through GoFarm’s Whole Farm Planning Course
- Partner with the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) to provide 6 post-training mentorships across Colorado and New Mexico
- Create a safe space for historically marginalized communities in farming to learn regenerative practices and techniques that will ensure their long-term success
- Increase the use of cover crop in the Denver and Albuquerque metro areas as a way to improve soil health without synthetic inputs
- Provide organic cover crop mixes to beginning farmers, ensuring at least 5 acres of urban farmland in the Denver metro area is cover cropped annually to improve soil health
- Facilitate over 800 hours of mentorship with GoFarm and over 300 hours of post-training mentorships/site visits/skills sharing with WFAN over the course of the project