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
Beginning Farmer Pandemic Relief Microgrants
In recognition of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on beginning growers, OEFFA is offering Beginning Farmer Pandemic Relief Microgrants to help early-career farmers recover from the pandemic and build resilient farm businesses. These grants are made possible thanks to funding from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Applications open January 17, 2022 and close March 7, 2022.
During the 2022 growing season, aspiring farmers will again have the opportunity to train and work on Ohio host farms through the Seasonal Farm Jobs program. Interns that complete this program with a certified intern host are eligible for a Farm Vision course scholarship.
OEFFA is pleased to coordinate the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship in Ohio. Through the rigorous two year apprenticeship, aspiring dairy farmers have the opportunity to train and work with master graziers. These paid apprentices attend distance education, tour additional farms, and connect with other apprentices and farmers through robust networking opportunities.
The Produce Farm Manager Apprenticeship is now open for our first cohort of a revamped, 18 month paid apprenticeship with related instruction from Hocking College Agroecology Program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Farm Vision Course
OEFFA’s Farm Vision 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. Visit the Course page for more details and to sign up for a waitlist for the next workshop.
Programs for Early Career Farmers
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 an email.
Beginning Farmer Field Days
The 2022 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series will be released in the Spring of 2022 and will offer 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.
Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course
OEFFA’s Heartland Farm Beginnings® training course provides 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 has helped to train more than 1,500 farmers across the country during the past 15 years. Applications for the next cohort will open in the Summer of 2022.
OEFFA’s Annual Conference
Registration is now open for the 43rd Annual OEFFA Conference. Workshops on production and business management topics are relevant to beginning farmers, as will the networking all members enjoy at the largest sustainable agriculture gathering in Ohio!
New farmers can apply to be formally matched with an experienced farmer ready to share his/her knowledge and experience. Applications are currently open for the 2022 growing season.
Land Access Program
Farmers looking for land and landowners looking for a farmer can post and search profiles and find links to many practical resources to begin a successful land transfer.
Farmland Specialist Services
Kelly Cabral, OEFFA’s Farmland Specialist, is available for consultation with beginning farmers and exiting farmers needing personalized technical assistance. Contact the Begin Farming Program Coordinator to determine if your situation is a good fit for Farmland Specialist services.
Farm Succession Planning Workshops
Farmland owners ready to make a plan to transfer their farm business or land can join our annual Succession Planning workshop series. Registration for the next workshop series will open in August of 2022.
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 we would be delighted to talk to you.Contact: Begin Farming Program Coordinator online or call (614) 947-1633 or 614-725-3163 for more.
This program is supported by NIFA USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program ( 2019-49400-30033).
Photos: Mile Creek Farm