Calling all new and aspiring farmers! Accessing farmland is one of the most complex financial decisions that any farmer will make. The National Young Farmers Coalition, along with Land for Good, Maine Farmland Trust and MOFGA are hosting a land access financials training for farmers next week in Unity ME. It’s designed for aspiring and new career farmers who they want to help along their land access journey with confidence.
During the workshop you will learn about:
The various programs already available for farmers seeking land in Maine.
Creative methods of securing land tenure.
Financing and affordability tools.
Working with a land trust to find and acquire land.
The workshop is completely free and refreshments will be provided. Click HERE to register.
If you cannot make the workshop, NYFC have also set up this really cool and useful website to assist farmers in finding land and figuring out the financials of doing so.
You have have read about our upcoming Faith Lands conference in our newsletter during the week. The purpose of the gathering is to connect landowning faith groups with landless young farmers. We want to help create a network that will help nativiate some of the complex issues that can arise in these situations. We are not the first to have this thought however, and we are delighted to see that there are already relationships blossoming between these two diverse groups. Once such example can be seen in the collaboration between Moses Kashem and the St. Simon’s Episcopal church as reported by the Miami Herald this week.
St. Simon’s Episcopal church was going broke. It’s a tiny squat building on 4 acres of land in south Miami-Dade County, with a tiny congregation. That’s when a new member of the congregation, Moses Kashem, came up with an idea. A young farmer, he asked the church elders to give him half an acre to farm specifically for local restaurants and chefs, and he already has signed up several chefs to purchase his produce.
Lon Frahm may represent the future of farming. Inside a two-story office building overshadowed by 80-foot steel grain bins, he points to a map showing the patchwork of square and circular fields that make up his operation. It covers nearly 10% of the county’s cropland, and when he climbs into his Cessna Skylane to check crops from the air, he can fly 30 miles before reaching the end of his land. At 30,600 acres, his farm is among the country’s vastest, and it yields enough corn and wheat each year to fill 4,500 semitrailer trucks. Big operations like Mr. Frahm’s, which he has spent decades building, are prospering despite the deepest farm slump since the 1980s. Years of low prices for corn, wheat and other commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide are driving smaller American farmers out of business.
This latest episode of Our Land takes place at the intersection of farming, faith, and political activism. Take a walk with us through farms formed by the Catholic Workers Association. “A friend calls it practicing for when peace breaks out, because, really, if we were to live in a world filled with peace, we wouldn’t be able to live with the resource extraction that’s happening.”
Did you have the experience of entering a coloring contest to win an over-sized Easter bunny, or perhaps a pie baking competition for gift basket filled with all manner of goodies? I clearly remember those moments from my childhood – moments that now seem quite unrealistic in terms of how things actually work in the world.
Here’s the equivalent over-sized Easter bunny for the young agrarian: Award-winning architect-turned-farmer Norma Burns has decided to give her beautiful farm away in an essay contest. Norma has been growing herbs, vegetables, and cut flowers on the certified organic, 13 acre farm for the last eighteen years. (more…)
When we normally think of tea farms, we picture massive estates and thousands of acres of that familiar dark-leaved perennial shrub. In North Bengal, however, creative farmers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs are both thinking outside and shrinking down the box. Subhash Sarkar, a retired government worker, is leading the charge:
While this region in North Bengal has always been associated with tea, small gardens like that of Sardar, measuring between an acre and 25 acres, are a relatively new feature and are rapidly coming up. Their owners say that if an acre of paddy yields Rs 6,000 a year, a tea plantation of the same size fetches them at least double the amount if not more, excluding expenses on labour, fertilizers and pesticides.
With small-scale tea farming looking increasingly feasible and earning farmers twice the payback as rice, the suburbs outside of Bangladesh’s major cities may soon be dotted with productive patches of Camellia sinensis.
Check out the photos and learn more about North Bengal’s burgeoning small-scale tea farms by clicking HERE.
How do we go about starting farms? Some of the main barriers new farmers face are access to training, access to land, access to funding. We’ve definitely noticed that in the last 10 years there has certainly been an increase in training opportunities, from more farms offering better employment, institutions offering curriculum around sustainable ag, and organizations, with as similar mandate to ours, helping connect budding agrarians.
But land access and funding remain serious challenges. While farmers continue to create novel approaches to financing their operations (CSA’s, community borrowing) we clearly need more recognition and support from the financial industry to help get new farms off the ground. (more…)
Who?This conference will bring together service providers, policymakers and advocates working on land access, farm succession, conservation, beginning farmers, tenure arrangements, and farm landowners.
What?This national conference will explore the issues surrounding land access, tenure and transfer. Topics include tenure innovations, farmers without successors, affordability, special populations, public policy, equity challenges, and more.
This event is hosted byLand For Good, in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture.
The Greenhorns, a nonprofit dedicated to young agrarians, is updating one of America’s oldest ag publications.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Long before Martha Stewart printed her seasonal gardening chores on the first pages in each issue of Martha Stewart Living, The Old Farmer’s Almanac outlined the farm-related tasks for any given month in a not dissimilar tone.
“Milch cows should receive especial attention at this season. Do not let them—or, in fact, any of the cattle—stay out too much in the cold, raw wind,” advises The Old Farmer’s Almanac from March 1892. As for the rest of the month, “This is a good time to decide which crops you had better plant; those which are best adapted to your soil, of course, should be the ones.”
However bossy, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is still a beloved and trusted guide—my grandparents kept a copy in the TV room of their farmhouse long after their own milch cows were sold, and my stepfather tucks the annual volume on the dictionary stand in his. But the folksy mix of weather forecasts, planting advice, astronomical and astrological data, recipes, and various articles (the 2017 edition includes a story titled “How to Woo on the Web”) has a very particular audience.
“Our mission is to promote the next generation of young agrarians, and we do that through mixed media,” said Laura del Campo, director of The Greenhorns, a grassroots nonprofit devoted to recruiting, promoting, and supporting a new generation of young farmers. A new take on The Old Farmer’s Almanac—called, rightly, The New Farmer’s Almanac—is one of the organization’s catalyzing contributions to the conversation about where agriculture is headed in the next 20 years. The upcoming issue—which was just bumped from this month to December, giving you extra time to add it to your Black Friday or Cyber Monday gift-shopping list—is focused on the notion of the commons as it relates to agriculture.
And if The Old Farmer’s Almanac seems old-fashioned—it was founded in 1792—that’s not the half of it.
“The almanac as a form is actually much older than The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” said The New Farmer’s Almanac Vol. III lead editor, Nina Pick. There is, for example, the Babylonian Almanac, which dates back to the first millennium BCE and detailed the relative auspiciousness of each day of the year for any endeavor of ordinary life—including activities related to food, health, travel, and business. In the first century ACE, Greek writer Ptolemy connected celestial movements with future weather patterns. By the Middle Ages, people saw little difference between predicting the movements of the stars and tides and predicting the future for purposes of divination. In other words, you could read your horoscope in medieval almanacs—just as you can today.
The New Farmer’s Almanac engages with an ancient form by including these traditional elements while also pushing ahead into new territory.
Pick said the new publication is “drawing on a very old, traditional form, and while keeping the integrity of this old form, we’re also radicalizing it—bringing in ideas that are more revolutionary, more radical—to have these conversations with a new agrarian movement.”
Contributions come from farmers young and old, activists, economists, poets, ecologists, and a former Russian literature professor. One contributor, Elizabeth Henderson, has been an organic farmer since 1980 and is two weeks away from celebrating the end of her 28th season at Peacework Organic CSA—which she says is the oldest CSA in New York State north of Long Island. She has contributed to The New Farmer’s Almanac for two years, and the latest volume includes two more of her essays: one on GMOs and another on raising the minimum wage for farmworkers.
“My position is that if we want to have an agriculture that is worth sustaining we have to find a way to pay the people who work on our farms living wages—not just minimum wage—so it’s a respected profession that people are anxious to get into,” she said.
There is a strong anti-GMO theme running throughout the volume, Pick said, and support of local and alternative economies. Henderson, for her part, said she has been able to sustain her farm for so many years by building and relying on networks of social capital. The members of Peacework, for example, contributed money to the Genesee Land Trust to purchase the farm’s land.
“That’s what we need to build—cooperation and a solidarity economy,” she said. “Because the regular capitalist marketplace isn’t paying us enough.”
In addition to expert essays and practical illustrations of lunar cycles, what makes the almanac so unique as a form is how it also makes space for beauty, as well as the ineffable qualities of life captured most compellingly in art. This, too, is radical, Pick said.
“Drawing attention to presence, to the movement of seasons, to land, to seeds, to the beautiful details in nature is a radical action in a cultural moment that is completely dominated by screens and lack of presence, lack of commitment to nature, lack of intimacy with place and with earth,” she said.
Poet Douglass DeCandia was eager to contribute to the third volume because “I feel that The New Farmer’s Almanac is giving voice to the people who are coming to agriculture to help heal the land, ourselves, and our communities.”
What the almanac as a form can do—and what The New Farmer’s Almanac does—is unite two distinct human needs between the covers of one book.
“It speaks to the part of us that needs to read poetry and see beautiful artwork as we’re sitting around the fire on a winter’s evening,” Pick said, “and the part of us that needs to know, ‘OK, I wonder when there’s going to be high tide on June 20? When is the moon going to be full in December? And where can I buy my seeds?’ ”
“The almanac, out of all the literary genres, offers this beautiful bridging of body and soul and a real integration of the two,” she said. “We can’t be here on Earth as one without the other.”
-Sarah McColl has written for Yahoo Food, Bon Appétit, and other publications. She’s based in Brooklyn, New York. This piece was created for Takepart, published on November 6, 2016.