With 10 percent of small farmers exiting farming each year, and a current median farming age of 58, helping new farmers successfully enter and thrive in their businesses is vitally important for the future of U.S. agriculture.
But, beginning farmers face significant hurdles, including attaining knowledge, skills and experience in production practices; acquiring the fundamental business planning and financial management knowledge and skills; and accessing farmland and capital as part of the substantial investment farming requires.
To help address this, OEFFA's new Begin Farming Program will provide aspiring and early career farmers (those farming 10 years or less) the support they need to understand what it takes to get into farming and grow their businesses. The goal of the program is to increase the number of successful sustainable and organic farmers in Ohio.
Click here for a printable flyer which provides an overview of the program.
Programs for Aspiring Farmers
During the 2017, 2018, and 2019 growing seasons, up to nine aspiring farmers will work on one of two central Ohio certified organic farms. These paid apprentices will attend off-farm educational workshops, tour additional farms, and connect with other apprentices and farmers through robust networking opportunities. Apprentices that complete this program receive a beginner's farm planning course scholarship.
Farm Vision Course Registration is now open for the October 15, 2017 Farm Vision workshop with another course planned for fall 2018. This workshop is designed to help aspiring farmers clarify what motivates them to farm, get their vision on paper, inventory their strengths and training needs, and get perspective from an experienced farmer.
Programs for Early Career Farmers
OEFFA’s 38th Annual Conference OEFFA's 38th Annual Conference, February 9-11, 2017 in Dayton featured a workshop track devoted exclusively to beginning farmers.
Two Day Intensive "Scale Up" Workshop
OEFFA is reprising a well-received workshop in fall 2017 and 2018, led by national expert Linda Halley. Registration is now open for Grow More Vegetables, Make More Money November 3-4, 2017. This in-depth training will focus on how to enlarge the scale of production for mixed vegetable operations. The workshop will explore techniques and equipment; weed control on larger acreage; increasing consistency; meeting demands of distributors, retailers, and institutions; post-harvest handling, and food safety.
New farmers can apply to be formally matched with an experienced farmer ready to share his/her knowledge and experience. Application for this year-long mentoring program will be available beginning fall 2017 for the 2018 growing season.
Production Information Line
Farmers can receive one-on-one production and marketing assistance by picking up the phone or sending an email. OEFFA staff will help farmers troubleshoot problems and access resources. Call (614) 421-2022 or send us an email.
Beginning Farmer Field Days
During the summer and fall 2017, 2018, and 2019, beginning farmers can connect during three customized farm field day events that provide opportunities for skill-sharing. The free 2017 farm tour events are: Homecoming Farm (Athens Co.) on June 25, Mile Creek Farm (Montgomery Co.) on August 13, and Moores Heritage Farm (Ashtabula Co.) on October 21. The 2017 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series also features a Young and Beginning Farmers Q&A and Networking Session on August 8 in Columbus, Ohio.
Beginning Farmer Facebook Group
Looking for another way to connect? OEFFA's Facebook group—OEFFA's Next Farm Team—is for you! It's a friendly, inclusive forum for beginning farmers to network, ask questions, and share ideas, resources, events, and photos.
Begin Farming Blog
OEFFA's Next Farm Team: Stories from the Field features beginning farmer profiles, stories from our farmers and about farmland access opportunities, and information about upcoming programs and events.
Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course
From October 2017-February 2018, OEFFA's Heartland Farm Beginnings® 10 part training course will provide opportunities for beginning and transitioning farmers to learn first-hand about identifying values, setting goals, and whole farm and strategic business planning. This in-depth, field-tested course is new to Ohio, but has helped to train more than 1,500 farmers across the country during the past 15 years. This multi-part series will also be offered fall/winter 2018.
Land Access Programs
Farm Succession and Land Transition Planning Workshop
Led by Tecumseh Land Trust in spring 2017 and 2019, farm families will receive information and assistance with discussing and planning how their land will be passed along to the next generation of farmers.
Land Access Innovation Training
Led by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) and Tecumseh Land Trust in February 2018, this one-day training will help land trusts learn about easement enhancements and ground leases that preserve affordability and active farming, funding strategies, monitoring and enforcement, and legal considerations.
Financial Decision-Making for Land Access Workshop
Led by NYFC as part of the February 2018 OEFFA conference, beginning farmers will learn about land trust partnerships, writing strong lease agreements, and financing.
Landowners and Land Seekers
OEFFA informally collects information to help connect aspiring and beginning farmers and others looking for land with established farmers with land to lease or to transition to new ownership. View the list of landowners and the list of land seekers(last updated April 2017). Would you like your information to be included? Complete this survey for landowners or this survey for land seekers and get added to the list!
Join Us in Fielding the Next Farm Team!
If you are interested in participating in these programs, either as a new farmer or an experienced farmer, please contact Kelly Henderson, Begin Farming Program Coordinator.
This program is supported by NIFA USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (2016-70017-25346).