Farmer Incubator Programs
Farm incubator programs are popping up around the country to help train a new fleet of farmers. These programs give temporary and affordable pieces of land to beginning farmers so that they can learn both practical farming skills and how to run a successful business. Below are five farm incubator programs around the country.
Have you been through one of the below incubator programs or another similar program? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Eastern Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District sponsors a farm incubator program at Headwaters Farm in the town of Orient, Oregon. This program leases out land at affordable rates to individuals to use as a launching pad for new farming projects. Multnomah county became interested in this project to help beginning farmers with institutional, cultural, and financial barriers find capital, quality farmland, farm equipment and infrastructure, and agricultural training. Selected applicants to the Headwaters Incubator Program will have some basic farm skills and have a viable farm business plan. Land is leased at a below market value, but will incrementally increase each year the farmer is in the program. By the fourth and final year the farmer will be paying full market value for the land. Applications for the 2014 growing season will open in the fall of 2013. Contact Rowan Steele, Farm Incubator Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.935.5355 with questions.
This is one of the newest incubator programs. It started this past February with the hope to train new vegetable and fruit farmers. This program is up and running with funding from the Bringing New Farmers to the Table project. Other partners include the Onslow County Farmers’ Market, Mount Olive College, and Onslow County Cooperative Extension Service. The program’s first class had 31 students for the course portion and about seven of these students will move on in August to work on the land, with equipment, and additional training. In the next part of the program these students will develop a farming plan and a financial plan.
PEPA is a nine-month training program designed to train individuals in farm management and organic crop production. The course covers four modules including organic crop production and planning; marketing; small business management; and applied organic farming. The last module offers experience farming a small plot under supervised conditions. The class meets one evening (6-9pm) per week for a lecture and one weekend afternoon (1-5:30pm) for field day activities. Also, course credit is available for through Hartnell Community College. The cost of the course is dependent on a sliding scale. For more information contact Nathan Harkleroad, ALBA’s Agriculture Education Program Manager, at email@example.com or 831-758-1469 ext. 11.
This is a ten-month training course for beginning farmers and those transitioning into more sustainable agriculture taught by established farmers. This course offers 43 hours of training through classroom learning, farm tours, field days, workshops and an extensive farmer network in the Midwest. For more information, contact Karen Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-523-3366
Seeing the great success of their own farm incubator program that focused mostly on refugees, the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project decided to provide training for other incubator programs across the country. The NIFTI is a two-year program that includes an online resource center, a three-day intensive incubator farm field school, one-on-one technical assistance, and at least six webinars. This project is aimed at personnel of newer land-based incubator projects in their planning and development phases. For more information contact Eva Agudelo, National Technical Assistance Coordinator, at email@example.com, or by phone at 978-654-5731.