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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/16/13

Ten Mentoring Programs That Can Help the Next Generation of Farmers Land on their Feet

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Co-Authored By: Danielle Nierenberg and Heather Penn

Young and aspiring farmers face a variety of challenges--from lack of land to not being able to access markets. But there are exciting new initiatives across the world offering valuable information and guidance to new farmers.

  1. Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture: The Stone Barns farm in Pocantico Hills, NY is a learning hub for farmers young and old. With a goal of educating farmers in "resilient, restorative farming techniques" Stone Barns offers everything from Farm Camp for kids to Virtual Grange, an online community for young farmers to gain knowledge and mentoring. 
  2. Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grants: Offering seven different grants, for new and existing farms, Southern SARE's grants educate, support, and allow farmers to move toward more sustainable production systems.
  3. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) - Educating Farmers in Zanzibar: Zanzibar's farmer field schools allow new farmers to learn agricultural practices--and train to mentor other new farmers.
  4. Farmer to Farmer: This organization began as a cooperative between Wisconsin and Nicaraguan farmers to learn from one another.  Now, its efforts are focused on educating coffee farmers in Guatemala.
  5. Cultivating Success: This program offers courses to beginning and existing farmers helping them find planning and decision-making tools, production skills, and support to successfully cultivate sustainable small-acreage farms in Wisconsin and Idaho.
  6. New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI) - On Farm Mentors: NESFI provides an on farm mentoring program to new farmers because they believe that the best knowledge comes from those who are already doing it.
  7. MOSES Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring: Pairs experienced organic farmers with those who are new to organic farming practices.
  8. Angelic Organics Learning Center Farmer Training Initiative: A recent recipient of a grant from the USDA, this mentoring program is headed by experienced farmers from the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training and offers new sustainable farmers business planning, on-farm training and mentoring.
  9. Dakota Rural Action Farm Beginnings: A farmer-led program that links established and beginning farmers to learn about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming.
  10. Future Harvest - Beginner Farmer Training Program: This program offers classroom and shoulder-to-shoulder training for beginning and transitional sustainable farmers in the Chesapeake Bay area.
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Danielle Nierenberg is an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues and co-founder of Food Tank: The Food Think Thank. She recently spent two years traveling to more than 35 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America (more...)
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Ten Mentoring Programs That Can Help the Next Generation of Farmers Land on their Feet

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