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mentorship in new england

Posted: April 25 2011

the deadline to apply is April 30th.

Beginning Farmer Institute
A Partnership between New England Farmers Union and National Farmers Union
New England Farmers Union is providing a unique opportunity for individuals who are contemplating starting a farm operation to receive valuable training through the Beginning Farmer Institute. The program is also open to those in our region who have been farming for less than ten years.
Beginning farmers face a seemingly unlimited number of decisions to make, from drawing up a business plan and arranging financing to learning what programs are available to make it easier to start up and sustain a successful operation.  This program is designed to answer the questions new farmers have, and more importantly, to share expertise and address questions that people do not always think of asking when they begin farming.
Applicants accepted into the 2011 program will attend two separate education sessions, one to be held this summer, the other in September in Washington, D.C.  The program will include topics such as business planning, understanding USDA programs, tax and record keeping, and marketing, and will blend classroom time with hands-on experience and tours to farms employing successful, innovative approaches.
Cost: There is no cost to apply. A $25 registration fee will be required of those who are accepted. The actual costs of the Institute will be covered by National Farmers Union (NFU) in partnership with New England Farmers Union (NEFU), with support from Farm Credit and SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education).  Covered costs include materials, transportation, lodging and meals.   Our intent is to provide each participant with educational experiences and materials that will prove to be invaluable.
Schedule: Will meet two times this year:  Summer of 2011 (probably in the Midwest) and September of 2011 (Washington, DC).   Each session will be 3 to 4 days.
Who can apply: Open to beginning farmers residing in any of the six New England states. The program is designed to provide opportunities for up to 10 participants who will come from New England and other parts of the US. The final number will be determined through the application process.
Who is a beginning farmer?   Unlike other programs, we do not have set criteria for a beginning farmer but rather have an application process where the applicant can answer questions and tell us why he or she feels they are a beginning farmer.  It could be a business person in Indiana who has the chance to change careers and establish a family farmers market.  It could be a young man from Massachusetts whose grandparents are transitioning a farm to him.  It could be a woman farmer from Vermont who has just completed an apprenticeship program on a CSA and is starting one of her own.
Is Farmers Union membership required? It is desired, but not required. Our goal is to provide educational training to those who want to farm. We all know that the number of farmers in the US is rapidly decreasing, and the average age continues to increase. NEFU and NFU believe agriculture is a great career and we want to support farmers who are starting out.
NFU/NEFU expectations: NEFU/NFU’s expectation is to have each New England graduate become an inspiration to and actively mentor similar individuals in New England, and/or to become engaged in their local boards and other community opportunities. NEFU/NFU plans to provide ongoing support to participants after they return to their farms.
Locations: Summer event location to be determined based on applications; The session on September 10-13 will be in Washington, DC.
Selection process: Those interested can download the application form fill it out, and return it. Applications will be reviewed by a panel with hands-on farming experience.  Individuals and couples may apply.
Purpose: Specific course topics will vary according to participant identified needs. Overall, the institute will provide participants with a working knowledge of business planning, marketing, USDA programs, farm finances (I.e., How to sit down with your banker and ask for an operating loan), taxes and even training on how to be effective on a board of directors, such as at a local cooperative. Before the first session starts, we will survey our participants and tailor the agenda topics to their needs.  This program will also include outside-the-classroom experiences such as tours of farms that set an example or found a niche and tours of cooperatives.
Deadline to apply: April 30, 2011.
For more information: contact John Ferris at (413) 548-6930 or [email protected]




new england