New Organic Stewards


Helpful Resources for New Farmers

The Start2Farm site and program assists new farmers & ranchers and those who have less than 10 years’ experience. Also offer: Grants for new farmersSample leases and contractFederal funding programs for new farmers

Conservation 2.0: How Land Trusts Can Save America’s Working Farms
The National Young Farmers Coalition released a report that reveals how current farmland conservation practices are failing working farmers.

Getting Started in Farming: An Introduction to Farm Business Planning
The eight lessons in this course will guide you through the process of imagining and planning a successful farming enterprise. You’ll also hear from several farmers who have made their dreams a reality.

6 Beginning Farmer Tips for Securing Farm Funding
In this piece from, Lisa Kivirist shares tips for unearthing funds to help you start your farm.

Tools for Transition Project
The Tools for Transition Project provided by eOrganic offers insights about the economics of organic transition.

Six Ways to Secure Farmland
This publication provided by ATTRA highlights some common ways to lease or own land. It outlines important considerations about each of these leasing options and paths to ownership.

Farm Business Start-Up Checklist (PDF)
This is a checklist of tasks suggested by established farmers offering important to-dos before opening for business on “Day One.”

Agrarian Trust
Agrarian Trust helps sustainable next-generation farmers access land.

Starting a business information lists
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center’s webpage lists many tools for beginning a business.


Formal Beginning Farmer Training Programs

  • Angelic Organics Learning Center
    The center offers business planning, on-farm training, and mentoring throughout Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
  • Annie’s Project
    Extension-led program “dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise.”
  • Beginning Farmer Institute
    National Farmers Union hosts this annual course developing leadership and farm management skills.
  • Cornercopia Student Organic Farm Apprenticeship Program
    An exciting new apprenticeship program that begins in January and span the entire growing season. Applicants have the option to participate in one or more seasons of work, with preference given to students opting for the full three seasons. Apprentices participate in all aspects of the farm from helping create the crop plan, to implementing it throughout the growing season, and marketing the crops.
  • Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship
    The program is a National Apprenticeship under the U.S. Department of Labor-Employment and Training Administration. It consists of 4,000 hours of training over a two-year period, including 3,712 hours of employment and mentoring under an approved Master Dairy Grazier and 288 hours of related instruction designed to enhance on-farm training.
  • EarthDance Organic Farming Apprenticeship Program
    The apprenticeship combines field and market training, weekly enrichment classes presented by agricultural professionals and practicing farmers, and 5 tours of nearby farms and gardens. Apprentices commit a minimum of 9.5 hours per week to the program, which includes frequent field walks, farm work and selling at farmers markets. Program runs from mid-April – September.
  • Farm Beginnings Collaborative
    This is a national alliance of organizations that provide Farm Beginnings, a yearlong training program that offers farm business-planning sessions, a series of on-farm field day workshops, and one-on-one mentoring from area farmers.
  • Farm Business Development Center
    The Farm Business Development Center (FBDC) allows aspiring farmers to build their farm and farming business from the ground up in a supportive environment. The FBDC provides beginning farmers an incubator setting with affordable access to certified organic land near the Chicago-area customer base, basic resources and infastructure, and access to experienced mentor farmers. It is facilitated by the Liberty Prairie Foundation, can also help FBDC graduates obtain longer-term land access for their growing farm operation.
    This nonprofit based in Medina, N.D. is focused on sustainable and organic farming, is now accepting applications for an opportunity to learn hands-on farming and ranching skills with the FARRMS Intern Program. Farm owners and operators are also encouraged to apply to become a host farm. FARRMS combines hands-on training, classroom learning and farm-based education on a diverse network of family farms in North Dakota, providing a quality internship experience.
  • Heartbeat Learning Gardens
    The training program helps aspiring farmers learn skills, gain confidence, and meet others as they prepare to manage a small farm of their own. The program can be completed in 3-6 months and is based in southwest Ohio. Heartbeat Learning Gardens is an educational non-profit that teaches simple living, cooperative culture, and sustainable agriculture.
  • Michigan State University North Farm
    The Apprentice Farmer Program is a farm incubator program that aims to serve as the launching point for individuals interested in starting their own farming enterprise. This two-year, residential program provides farming entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and assistance needed to ensure a solid start to their farming career.
  • Michigan State University Organic Farmer Training Program
    A nine-month intensive training program in year-round organic farming focusing on diversified production of vegetables, livestock, 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 and business skills and knowledge.
  • Minnesota Food Association
    The Big River Farms Training Program provides primarily immigrant and minority farmers with instruction and certification for organic vegetable production, access to resources and markets for growing, distributing and selling those vegetables, and a forum in which they can develop and practice business skills.  Ten farmer participants have access to demonstration/production plots for growing vegetables and receive valuable training in farm business goals and practices. Farmer participants sell produce into two or more channels, including the Big River Farms CSA.
  • Organic Farm School
    Located on scenic Whidbey Island in Washington State, the Organic Farm School (OFS) trains aspiring farmers to run successful ecological and community-focused farms, and uses its eight-acre organic farm as a real world example and outdoor classroom. Through a balance of academic and experiential studies, students learn and experience all aspects of starting and running a small scale organic farm during this full-time, 8 month program.
  • Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture  The Stone Barnes Center, in partnership with General Mills, offers the Regenerative Farming Fellowship which supports medium-scale farmers in the midsection of the country who are committed to transitioning their operations to regenerative agriculture.
  • Triton College
    Find degrees in horticulture with a focus on urban and sustainable agriculture.
  • UC-Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture
    The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at UC-Santa Cruz offers practical as well as academic training in the techniques of agroecology and organic farming and gardening. The Farm & Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture is the oldest of the Center’s programs, offering hands-on training at the UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden.
  • UVM Farming Training Program
    A 6-month intensive program for aspiring farmers and food systems advocates that provides a hands-on, skills-based education in sustainable agriculture. This full-time program offers participants the unique opportunity to manage their own growing site, take classes from professors and expert farmers, and rotate as workers and learners on successful, diverse farms in the Burlington area. This program will provide an intense, supportive experience where participants leave with a Certificate in Sustainable Farming, a deeper understanding of agricultural management and small-scale farming, and the entrepreneurial skills to start their own operation.
  • Vilicus Farms Apprenticeship Program
    Two formal hands-on organic grain apprenticeship opportunities at Vilicus Farms are available; an eight month program and a two-year program. Both include training in day-to-day dryland organic farming operations, growing systems, conservation practices and the greater ecosystem.
  • Whole Farm Management Course for Beginning Farmers
    Oregon State University Small Farms Program’s course Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management is now available nationally online. The course is intended for people who are considering starting a farm business, those within their first five years of farming, and others who may be considering major changes to their farm business. 2016 is now finished; check back for the 2017 date.
  • Wolfe’s Neck Center Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program
    This hands-on, residential program allows apprentices to learn all aspects of operation and management, preparing them to run their own organic dairy farm.  Trainees are provided with export support in training, business planning, securing financing, locating land, and continued guidance through first few years of independent production. The two-year program is a National Apprenticeship under the Department of Labor, in partnership with the Wisconsin-based Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship.
  • Wolfe’s Neck Center Fruit & Vegetable Farmer Training Program
    This program covers all aspects of organic fruit & vegetable crop production with a focus on regenerative agriculture techniques. In addition to technical skills, Fruit & Vegetable Interns simultaneously hone their skills as agricultural educators as they plan workshops and interact with adults and children of all ages who visit the farm on a daily basis.


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