Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

1. What is the Farm Beginnings Collaborative?

Farm Beginnings Collaborative is a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers and farmer-training support organizations working together to promote Farm Beginnings®, a farmer training model that is community based, rooted in sustainable principles, and farmer led. The Farm Beginnings Collaborative is not its own organization, and has no staff.

2. What is Farm Beginnings®?

Farm Beginnings provides opportunities for beginning and transitioning farmers to learn firsthand about value clarification and goal setting, whole farm planning, business plan development, financial management, record keeping, marketing practices, and low-cost, sustainable farming methods.

3. What makes Farm Beginnings® unique and successful?

Farm Beginnings utilizes these three Guiding Principles to offer training and hands-on learning opportunities in the form of classroom sessions, farm tours, and mentorship in an initiative that is:

  • Farmer Led

Farm Beginnings® is a farmer-led training program for new and beginning farmers. It was started by experienced farmers, and farmers participate at all levels as steering committee members, classroom presenters, on-farm presenters, and on-farm mentors. This means that the FBC is looking for interested organizations that have a direct connection with farmers and ideally a network of farmers.

  • Community Based

Farm Beginnings® offers new and beginning farmers a means to establish strong relationships with local farmers, businesses, resources, and consumers within a community network that supports and strengthens the local food and farming system. This means that the FBC is looking for interested organizations that are committed to a specific region and building long term relationships with farmers and other resource people in their region.

  • Rooted in Sustainable Farming

Farm Beginnings® programs support sustainable farming by promoting farming practices that are ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and achievable for new and beginning farmers. This means that the FBC is looking for interested organizations that are actively promoting sustainable agriculture.

4. How can I buy the Farm Beginnings® curriculum?

The Farm Beginnings curriculum is not for sale. Organizations interested in adopting Farm Beginnings can look into joining the Farm Beginnings Collaborative.

5. How would someone become a facilitator of Farm Beginnings?  

To become a Farm Beginnings facilitator, or use the Farm Beginnings® curriculum, you must work with an organization that is a member of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative and has a license to use Farm Beginnings®.

6. How do organizations join the Farm Beginnings Collaborative?

Staff from FBC member organizations work with prospective organizations through a phased process that starts with exploration.  During the exploration phase, both the FBC and the prospective organization assess how well Farm Beginnings® fits in terms capacity and alignment of principles.  This starts with the prospective organization filling out the FBC Interest Form, followed by, if appropriate, a couple of phone conversations with key people from both entities. The exploration phase usually takes 2 to 3 months.

If there is continued mutual interest, we enter the second phase, which usually takes 6 to 8 months. During the second phase, we have the opportunity for in-person meetings including an assessment visit by the FBC to the prospective organization. During this second phase the FBC often provides some training and consultation. At the end of this phase, if there is interest in joining the FBC, member organizations vote on whether to accept a new organization.

7. Once an organization joins the FBC, what is the process for adopting Farm Beginnings?

Adopting Farm Beginnings usually takes 6 months to a year. There are at least three trainings, including some orientation and training at the FBC annual meeting, attending a member organization’s Farm Beginnings class, and on-going mentoring.

8. What fees apply?

There is a $2500 initial fee for use of materials. In addition, each new organization pays $7000 for training, mentoring and associated travel during the adoption of Farm Beginnings. These fees are frequently covered by various grants awarded to either the FBC or the new member. Each current FBC member pays an annual fee of $500. There are additional yearly expenses as well, to pay for travel to the annual meeting, unless there is a grant that covers these expenses.

9. How can we raise funds to help pay for the cost of joining the FBC?

Often organizations have incorporated the expense of the exploration phase and the expense of joining the FBC into grants. Prospective organizations must inquire with us before doing so.

10. Is it possible to work with an organization that is already a member of the FBC to offer a Farm Beginnings class?

Yes. Organizations that join the FBC are licensed and trained in Farm Beginnings.  FBC members with licenses may work with partner organizations under a sublicense agreement if they choose. The member organization must approve of use of the curriculum in the same region.

11. How much does it costs to run a Farm Beginnings program?

We estimate the annual expense of running Farm Beginnings, per student, is roughly $4,000, including both direct and indirect staff time.

12. How can I get more information, or talk to a person?
Contact Sheri Doyel with Angelic Organics Learning Center sheri@learngrowconnect.org, or Amy Bacigalupo with the Land Stewardship Project amyb@landstewardshipproject.org.