Our training is unique in that it is farmer-led, community based, and focused on sustainable agriculture. And… it works! We have been recognized as “a model that is creating strong new farm businesses across the country” by Kathleen Merrigan then U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, 2012.
Farm Beginnings® is a yearlong training program that offers farm business-planning sessions, a series of on-farm field day workshops, and one-on-one mentoring from area farmers.
The program focuses on business planning, and is embedded in a network of farmers and supported by a community of stakeholders that include bankers, business people, extension agents, investors, philanthropists and more. Creating this social infrastructure is intentional and a precursor to launching new programs, as it bolsters both farmer-success and program-success.
All organizations that offer Farm Beginnings belong to the Farm Beginnings Collaborative (FBC).
It is a national alliance that is growing and now includes 13 organizations with programs serving beginning farmers in 14 states. For the full list of organizations, see the homepage.
The Farm Beginnings Collaborative has developed a set of indicators to track outputs and outcomes across all its member organizations. Farm Beginnings programs have graduated hundreds of farmers, and of those who responded to our 2015 graduate survey, 80% are farming. The model is adaptable to diverse regions and people.
Would you like to explore joining the Farm Beginnings Collaborative? Read our FAQ page and then contact Sheri Doyel with Angelic Organics Learning Center firstname.lastname@example.org, or Amy Bacigalupo with the Land Stewardship Project email@example.com.
Brief history of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative:
The Farm Beginnings Collaborative (FBC) is a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers, farmer networks, and farmer-training support organizations, which are working together to promote Farm Beginnings, a beginning farmer training model that is farmer-led, community based, and focused on sustainable agriculture.
The long-term goal of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative (FBC) is to expand the use of farmer-to-farmer training models as a proven approach for increasing the number of farmers producing food for local and regional food systems.
In 1996, Farm Beginnings (FB) was started by the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project (LSP) and its farmer members to create a training and support program that could help new farmers tap into emerging opportunities in agriculture like organic dairy, Community Supported Agriculture, grass-fed beef and other growing markets in the emerging local foods movement. Farm Beginnings is a year-long program that helps beginning farmers develop holistic business plans, network with peers, and learn from experienced farmer-presenters.
LSP shared the Farm Beginnings curriculum with other farmer training peers, and Farm Beginnings is now a licensed program in which all partners trained to offer the course become members of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative (FBC).