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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Farming Opportunities and Land Available

Featured Resources on Farmer Training Programs:

NewFarm from the Rodale Institute has a very good Directory of Student Farms which is mainly focused on college and university programs, but lists many others as well.

A comprehensive state by state and international directory of ‘Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture’ (19th Edition, 2009) complied by the USDA Alternative Farming Systems Information Center can be found at

1) The Land Stewardship Project Farm Beginnings® Program (Southeast MN, Western WI, & NE Iowa or Western MN, Southeast SD, Northwestern IA)

2) Farm Beginnings® Programs in Other Regions (Greenview, IL; Evanston, IL; Caledonia, IL; Two Harbors, MN; Auburn, NE; Lincoln, NE; Ghent, NY; Medina, ND; & Brookings, SD)

3) The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (East Troy, WI)

4) The Michigan State University Student Organic Farm Certificate Program (E. Lansing, MI)

5) The Michigan Land Use Institute’s Get Farming! Programs (Traverse City, MI)

6) Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (Madison, WI & Satellite Locations)

7) Foundation Farm School (Eureka Springs, Arkansas)

9) Penn State Cooperative Extension Beginning Farmer School (Online)

10) UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture


1) The Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings Program includes:

* 36 hours of seminar time, much of it with established farmers.
* 12 on-farm education events, including farm tours and skills sessions on working farms.
* Course books, binders and other materials.
* Connection to a network of established sustainable farmers interested in helping you succeed.
* A one-year Land Stewardship Project membership.
* Application for a livestock loan for those successfully completing Farm Beginnings.

“The cost for the 10 month course is $1,500. The $1,500 covers the farmer presenter’s time, the materials, on-farm education and a complimentary year long membership in the Land Stewardship Project. There are a limited amount of scholarship dollars available to help if there is financial need.

Through their On-Farm Education “participants spend the spring and summer attending on-farm education sessions. They have the opportunity to tour a wide variety of farms that encompass many different systems of farming.
Tours are arranged to visit a variety of farms during the course… April- August. The purpose is to see many different operations, look at the systems each farm family has implemented, ask questions about production methods, farming techniques and be exposed to creative problem solving. The tours will consist of a tour of the farm, an overview from the farmers and a time for discussion and questions.

Their Skills Sessions were piloted in 2005-2006 and often accompanied a farm tour with a focus on specific hands-on learning. Some examples from the 2005-2006 year were preparing winter CSA shares, weeding techniques on an organic vegetable farms, fence building, calf care, prepping for and attending farmers markets.

Driftless Region (SE Minn., Western WI, NE Iowa)

• Karen Stettler (general information)


• Parker Forsell (Farm Beginnings Collaborative)


• Karen Benson (class registration)



Phone: 507-523-3366

Address: P.O. Box 130, Lewiston, MN 55952

Prairie Region (Western Minn., SE S. Dak., NW Iowa)

• Amy Bacigalupo (general information)


• Nick Olson (class information)


Phone: 320-269-2105

Address: 301 State Rd., Suite 2, Montevideo, MN 56265

2) Farm Beginnings Programs in Other Regions

Central Illinois Farm Beginnings
Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/University of Illinois Extension
Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist/ SARE Coordinator
P.O. Box 410
Greenview, IL 62642
Phone: 217-968-5512
Cell: 217-341-0398

Illinois: The Land Connection
Terra Brockman (through the end of Aug. 2009)/ Kathy McGroarty-Torres
1227 Dodge Ave., Suite 200
Evanston, IL 60202
Phone: 847-570-0701
Fax: 847-570-0711

Illinois: Stateline Farm Beginnings
Tom Spaulding/Sheri Doyel/Tracey Hall
Angelic Organics Learning Center
1547 Rockton Rd
Caledonia IL, 61011
Phone: 815-389-8455

Lake Superior-NW Wisconsin/NE Minnesota
Cree Bradley
Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association
2995 Hwy 3
Two Harbors, MN 55616
Phone: 218-834-0846

Gary Lesoing
Nemaha County Extension
Nebraska SARE Coordinator
1842 N. Street-Courthouse
Auburn, NE 68305-2395
Phone: 402-274-4755

William Powers
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
Executive Director
1708 North 32nd Street
Lincoln, NE 68503
Phone: 402-525-7794

New York
Rachel Schneider
Educational Programs Director
Hawthorne Valley Farm
327 Route 21C
Ghent, NY 12075
Phone: 518-672-7500, ext. 105

North Dakota
Britt Jacobson/Karri Stroh
301 5th Ave. SE
Medina, ND 58467
Phone: 701-486-3569
Fax: 701-486-3580

South Dakota
Frank James/ Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher
Dakota Rural Action
Mailing Address:
PO Box 549
Brookings, SD 57006
Street Address: 910 4th St.
Old Sanctuary Building, Suite A
Brookings, SD 57006
Phone: 605-697-5204
Fax: 605-697-6230

3) The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute offers training through:

- Their Garden Student Foundation Year, “an exploration into biodynamic and organic agriculture through theoretical and experiential building on core competencies and skills and agro-ecological literacy. The Garden Student Foundation Year prepares students for the challenges of farming, broadens awareness into issues of sustainable agriculture today and penetrates the human spirit with enlivened knowledge.

This four-term immersion program offers a foundation into agricultural study with the flexibility that can be balanced with personal schedules. The Garden Student Foundation Year begins February 3rd with the Pre-Season Term that emphasizes theoretical study.

The Spring, Summer and Fall Terms are each ten-weeks long and are production oriented. The four terms in the Garden Student Foundation Year flow together to create a comprehensive agricultural literacy. Students have the option of taking one full term of choice or completing the whole 9-month Garden Student Foundation Year.”

- Their Stella Gardens Farm Management Apprenticeship which “focuses on the individual’s goals to become a farmer. Two candidates are selected each year from the Garden Student Foundation Year to manage Stella Gardens, outdoor classroom for the Farm & Food Education Program – Garden Student Foundation Year, Whole Farm Workshops and Guided Educational Tours.

The apprenticeship opportunities include free access to cooperating farm tours, Whole Farm Workshops and select conferences as well as individualized mentoring from Janet Gamble, Farm & Food Director.

Program components Include

* Sustainable agriculture business plan development, implementation and evaluation
* Market development
* Provide hands-on, practical experience in managing a small-scale farm enterprise
* Identifying and learning core competencies and skills and time management
* Opportunity to develop educational components with Garden Student foundation Year students and visiting groups, written and oral project presentation, farm-tours by visiting public
* Opportunity to attend any MFAI educational workshops, lectures, and special events”- Their Whole Farm Workshops which “are designed to serve as entry points and pathways at every phase of an agrarian life – newly emerging farmers, farmers in transition and even those who have been farming for many years all benefit from courses.”

They “are also creating opportunities for consumers to enter into farm life through cooking, gardening and farm tours. At MFAI, you will engage in interactive workshops and on-site field trainings presented by experienced farmers offering practical, immediate solutions.”

4) The Michigan State University Organic Farmer Training Program is a 9 month intensive training program in year round organic farming focusing on diversified production of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets. The program emphasizes student learning in hands on farm management and decision making as well as development of necessary farming skills and knowledge.

Students engage in the management of the 10 acre certified organic farm including its 16,000 sqft of passive solar greenhouse space and the SOF production for its primary markets including a 48week CSA, 6 month on campus farm stand, and sales to campus dinning services. Students also develop competencies in farm skills through skills trainings and by engaging in the day to day work and operation of the farm. Hands-on-training is combined with workshops, lectures, readings, and assignments that build participant?s knowledge and understanding of organic farming principles and practices. Click here to read more:

5) Get Farming! is a project of the Michigan Land Use Institute in Traverse City. Their focus is on beginning farmers and prospective growers as well as established farmers interested in new production or marketing strategies. They are hosting workshops on a variety of subjects, including:

* Women in Agriculture
* Community Supported Agriculture Mini-school
* Hoophouses for Season Extension and Year Round Growing
* Whole Farm Planning
* Renewable Energy
* Cranberry Production
* Food Safety and GAP
* Organic Grape Production
* Others to be announced

- Get Farming’s Entrepreneur Series will offers eight classes covering farm business and production issues like market research, legal concerns, soils, pests and financial planning. The Entrepreneur Series begins in March, 2010 in Traverse City.

The project coordinator is Jim Sluyter, 231-941-6584 or

6) The The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers can give you the edge you need to succeed in the pasture-based dairy and livestock industries. It is the only program of its kind in the nation, and your best resource for an education in pasture-based dairy and livestock farming.

Holstein's on the Tomandl Family Farm The school has been designed to provide the opportunity for motivated individuals to educate themselves about pasture-based dairy and livestock farming. We offer our specialized training through traditional classroom activities, hands-on internships, and farm tours of pasture-based farms managed by successful graduates and mentors. We strongly emphasize the business and financial planning knowledge required to run a successful farm business. Classroom instruction at the school runs from the middle of November through the end of March — and our students typically participate in internships from April through July, though those dates are flexible.

Nothing surrounding the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers is ever a solitary effort. The School gives you access to a network of experienced pasture-based dairy and livestock farmers with a passion for helping new farmers get started. Years after your graduation, you’ll still be able to pick up the telephone and call the friends you made at the school – students and instructors – for advice, assistance, or even just to chat.

A White Barn on Bert Paris's Dairy Farm The school has grown out of cooperation between the Farm and Industry Short Course program and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a university considered by many to have the finest agricultural tradition of any institution in the country. Participating in the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers gives you all the opportunities afforded any other student at the UW – including access to the top-notch athletic, library, and computer facilities on campus.

A distance education option allows students to enroll and participate via live interactive webcast and audio feed at one of seven other Wisconsin locations: Chilton, Frederic, Independence, Platteville, Reedsburg, Thorp or Wausau.

A local facilitator leads the distance education seminar at each site, provides networking with area farmers and resource personnel, and conducts a discussion session each week.

Contact information

Madison: Richard Cates, WSBDF Director, 608-265-6437 or 608-588-2836;

Chilton: Jeremy Hanson, Fox Valley Technical College at the Chilton Regional Center, 920-849-4416;

Frederic: Otto Wiegand, Uw-Extension, Washburn, Sawyer and Burnett Counties, 715-635-3506;

Independence: Mary Anderson, River Country RC&D, 715-538-4396 ext. 33;

Platteville: Gretchen Kamps, UW-Platteville School of Agriculture, 608-342-1371;

Reedsburg: Doug Marshall, MATC-Reedsburg, 608-524-7727;

Thorp: Marcia Bendixen, UW-Extension, Clark County, 715-743-5121;

Wausau: Tom Cadwallader, UW-Extension, Lincoln and Marathon Counties, 715-539-1072 or 715-261-1240;

7) The Foundation Farm School
Foundation Farm school was born of a need: not enough food is grown locally. Farmers around us are getting older and are not being replaced. Over the last 50 years, there has been an increasing loss of interest in small-scale farming, especially in America. This decay of family farming has many, well documented roots, one being the competition from “industrial agriculture” which pushes food prices (and quality standards) down and monopolizes retail channels. The disappearance of family farming explains in part why food travels thousands of miles to reach us.
But we can fight back and turn the tide. There are ways and reasons to return to small-scale farming and our farm school is as much a place to learn as it is a chance to rediscover the joys of farming. We are convinced that once aware of its possibilities, some people will choose farming over other, more obvious, career choices.
If you are contemplating applying to the school, we recommend that you take a look at the rest of the site, especially at the virtual tour and the farm philosophy pages.
We are looking for 5 trainees interested in establishing their own farm in the near future. The school curriculum will reflect this objective by teaching the tools necessary to start a successful farm from ground zero. Classes cover the cultivation, marketing and financial aspects of running a farm based of our accumulated experience with Foundation Farm and previous farms.
If you are interested, please submit your application to us.
School Term:
The 2009 school year will start on Monday, March 16th and will extend to Friday, October 30th for a total of 6 and 1/2 months. Students are expected to join for the full term in order to cover the curriculum and 3 growing seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall). There will be a formal checkpoint-interview 1 month after joining, as well as an exit interview on the last week of training.
School Facilities/Format:
Classes take place at the farm shed. Do not expect a formal classroom, but expect a formal lecture involving notes-taking, and sometimes class preparation. Classes happen usually on Mondays, following lunch, and last about one hour.
Field instruction takes place at the farm in a very real-life, professional context. Patrice Gros, owner/teacher, will be present throughout the seasons to direct fieldwork.
Progressive Time Schedule & Stipend:
The school does not charge a tuition. A progressive stipend will be paid weekly to offset some of the trainees’ personal expenses:
March/April/May: Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 9am to 1pm (allowance: $30/week)
June through October: Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 7am to 12pm (allowance: $60/week)

School “Normal” Weekly Schedule, starting in April:
Monday: In class instruction: 1 to 1 1/2 hour; field work: 4 to 5 hours (variable start-times according to season. Field work is always monitored and the object of in-the-field discussions between teacher(s) and students.

Wednesday/Friday: Supervised field work: 4 to 5 hours (variable start-times according to season).

Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday (Optional): 4 hour participation to farmers’ market activity.
The school is designed as a part time activity allowing other life activities such a work or other studies. The farm is only 15 minutes from Eureka Springs and 1 hour from Bentonville.
2 rooms are available, free of charge, at the farm in a simple cabin with cold & warm potable water, and electricity. Otherwise, affordable lodging or camping can be found in nearby Holiday Island (4 miles) or Eureka Springs (10 miles).
On workdays (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), we have lunch at the farm. Trainee teams rotate to prepare our food. Lunches are paid for by the farm. As much as possible, we use the seasonal produce which comes out of the field.
Outside Work:
Seasonal work is available in Eureka Springs (a busy tourist destination), if you wish or must earn an income during the school term. Check the website for a virtual tour of town.
Trainees’ outside work hours cannot interfere however with the farming school schedule.

9) The Penn State Cooperative Extension Beginning Farmer School is an online course which allows you to interact with individual instructors who can help you to make decisions related to your own farming operation.

* Lesson materials are available any time.
* Simply click on the topic title under each lesson and you will go directly to the material to read. You may read the material on screen or print it out for future reference
* Registrations for the course are accepted at any time throughout the year. Click here for more information about the course. To sign up for the course, complete the registration form and mail to the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office in Bedford County.

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied.

10) The UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture provides training in the concepts and practices of organic gardening and small-scale farming. This full-time program is held at the Center’s 25-acre Farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UCSC campus. Run in conjunction with UCSC Extension, the Apprenticeship course carries 20 units of Extension credit for the approximately 300 hours of classroom instruction and 700 hours of in-field training and hands-on experience in the greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and fields. Tuition for the six-month course is $4,250.

Since its founding in 1967, the Apprenticeship has developed into an internationally recognized program that blends the virtues of experiential learning with traditional classroom studies. Topics covered during the six-month course include soil management, composting, pest control, crop planning, irrigation, farm equipment, marketing techniques, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) practices.

The Apprenticeship model of combining theoretical and practical instruction has been replicated both locally and internationally as apprentices go on to train others in hands-on projects. Graduates have also established their own commercial farms and market gardens, run community gardens for inner city and prison populations, and developed school gardening programs. Many graduates take part in international development projects, including programs in Nepal, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and throughout Central and South America. Others have raised the standards of the organic food industry through work with certification programs and retailers.

If You’re Thinking about Applying Check out the Apprenticeship Information & Application Page For a More Complete Description of the Program, an Application Form, and Tuition Scholarship Information. Or check out the Information for International Applicants Here.

Application deadlines and notification dates for the 2010 program are:

* Deadline for U.S. & Canadian Citizens: October 15, 2009
* Notification of Acceptance: late December, 2009

* Deadline for International Applicants: September 15, 2009
* Notification of Acceptance for International Applicants: November, 2009

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