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 2020 growing season, aspiring farmers will have an opportunity to train and work on host farms throughout Ohio. More information about these paid internships will be available by spring 2020. Interns that complete this program receive a Farm Vision course scholarship.
OEFFA is pleased to bring the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship to Ohio in 2020. Aspiring dairy farmers will have an opportunity to train and work with master graziers. These paid apprentices will attend distance education workshops, tour additional farms, and connect with other apprentices and farmers through robust networking opportunities in this two year program. In 2021 and 2022, OEFFA will resume a revamped specialty crop apprenticeship.
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. The next workshop will be held in early summer 2020 in the Northwest region of Ohio.
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 us an email.
Beginning Farmer Field Days
During the summer and fall of 2019, beginning farmers connected during farm field day events that provided opportunities for skill-sharing. The 2020 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series schedule will be released in spring 2020 and 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 October 2020-February 2021 cohort will open by August 1, 2020.
OEFFA’s Annual Conference
OEFFA’s 41st Annual Conference will be held February 13-15 in Dayton, Ohio. Workshops on production and business management topics will appeal to beginning farmers, as will the networking all members enjoy at the largest sustainable agriculture gathering in Ohio! 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 2020 growing season mentorship are open now!
Land Access Program
Farm Land and Labor Mixer
OEFFA holds informal networking sessions designed to connect people and possibilities. If you have land you want farmed, need a plot to get started, or are looking for on-farm labor opportunities, join us for our Heartland FarmLink Live event Thursday, February 13 at 5 p.m. at the OEFFA conference!
Farm Succession and Land Transition Planning Workshops
Landowners can receive information and assistance with discussing and planning how their land will be passed along to the next generation of farmers. Learning opportunities will be posted as details become available.
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.
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: Rachel Tayse, Begin Farming Program Coordinator, online or (614) 947-1633.
This program is supported by NIFA USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (2016-70017-25346).
Photos: Mile Creek Farm