With 10 percent of small farmers exiting farming each year, and a current median farming age of 59, 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 Begin Farming Program provides 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.
Programs for Aspiring Farmers
During the 2019 growing seasons, aspiring farmers will have an opportunity to train and work on certified organic farms throughout Ohio. These paid apprentices will attend distance education workshops, tour additional farms, and connect with other apprentices and farmers through robust networking opportunities. Apprentices that complete this program receive a Farm Vision course scholarship.
Farm Vision Course
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 a panel of beginning farmers. This workshop will be part of the 2019 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.
Programs for Early Career Farmers
OEFFA’s 40th Annual Conference
OEFFA's 40th Annual Conference will be held in February 2019 in Dayton and will feature workshops geared towards beginning farmers. More information available in fall 2018!
Two Day Intensive "Scale Up" Workshop
OEFFA is reprising a well-received workshop in fall 2018, led by national expert Linda Halley. 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. In addition, Corinna Bench, of Shared Legacy Farms, will bring expertise in marketing. Registration is now open!
New farmers can apply to be formally matched with an experienced farmer ready to share his/her knowledge and experience. Applications for the 2019 season will be available fall of 2018 for mentees or mentors interested in the Begin Farming Mentorship Program.
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 of 2018 and 2019, beginning farmers can connect during three farm field day events that provide opportunities for skill-sharing. The 2018 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series offers many opportunities for beginning farmers and experienced farmers to get together and learn from other farmers in the region.
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 2018-February 2019, OEFFA's Heartland Farm Beginnings® 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. Applications are now being accepted!
Land Access Program
Farm Succession and Land Transition Planning Workshop
Led by Tecumseh Land Trust, in spring 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.
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 August 2018). 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! You can also join OEFFA's Farmlink listserv by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).