Beginning Farmer, Apprentice and Mentorship Programs

Welcome to the Beginning Farmers and Farmer Mentorship section of our website!

This page is a hub for those exploring farming as a career option, for those working and learning on farms, for those just starting out their own farming enterprise and for farmers interested in passing along their skills.  You will find applications to take part in our Farm Apprenticeship Program, technical resources, interesting articles, links to other organizations and information about events geared towards beginning farmers and mentors.

What Do You Want To Do Today? (options are linked)
Find On-Farm Working/Learning Opportunities:
  • The NOFA-NY Apprenticeship Directory and Apprenticeship Support Program:  The only way (that we know of) in New York to list yourself as an aspiring farmer looking for that key on-farm work/learn experience.  Farmers can read about your path to farming and what you’re looking to learn on a farm.  Plus, you can search for your apprenticeship based on a number of filters!  To read more, please click the link to the left of this page.  
  • NOFA-NY wants to support you, a New York beginning farmer working as an employee, apprentice or intern.  You can call (Rachel at (585) 271-1979 ext. 511) or e-mail ( the Beginning Farmer Program about your next steps and opportunities.
  • NOFA-NY Classifieds:  Want the work experience, less sure about a full-on apprenticeship?  You’ll still learn a lot working on a farm—start by checking out NOFA-NY Classifieds.
  • NOFA-NY Mentorship Program: Sign up at any time for inclusion in the next round of mentorship matching!  The process is designed so you can learn about and connect with experienced farmers (who want to pass along knowledge and lead you through your journey as a farmer); you control whom you speak with and whom you ultimately pair up with--there's no rush.  Learn more about this program HERE.
  • NOFA-NY and Stone Barns Center have teamed up to provide a one-on-one farmer consultancy service, as a side branch of our Mentorship Program.  When you have an urgent production question, you'll be glad you have the roster of tried-and-true sustainable farmers available to you.  Sign up any time, learn more HERE.
  • The Groundswell Center is an agriculture education nonprofit in Ithaca, NY that runs short-term intensive trainings in farm business and sustainable farming, as well as listing a variety of local farming opportunities and coordinating the Finger Lakes CRAFT program.
  • CRAFT Programs around New York State (and other states) combine high-caliber farm apprenticeships with networking and farm tours in a centralized area!  Each CRAFT group is unique, and many similar groups seem to be forming in recent years.
  • ATTRA/National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's internships listings.  NOFA-NY can not vouch for the quality of the information here, so make sure you read up on what your rights are as a farm employee/apprentice/intern, as well as ways to get the most out of an on-farm educational experience.
  • Northeast Beginning Farmer Project: We can't plug this project heavily enough!  The website has been experiencing difficulties in early 2012, but they're another great clearinghouse for farm job and training opportunities.
  • The Sustainable Agriculture Education Association lists agriculture-related degree programs at colleges and universities nation-wide.  If finding a degree that matches your goals to be a farmer is what you seek, definitely check out this list!
Train yourself through a variety of free and for-a-fee avenues: 
Read Up:
Do Some Homework:
  • The USDA allows you to subscribe to any number of e-mail updates from a huge list.  Head to the USDA home page and find the “subscribe to e-mail updates” box in the middle of the page on the left.  Some suggestions: your New York county’s FSA (Farm Services Agency) office and the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food blog.
Click Some More: Excellent External Links

Any questions about the Beginning Farmer Program can be directed to the Beginning Farmer Coordinator:
Rachel Schell-Lambert
(585) 271-1979 ext. 511

The Beginning Farmer Project of NOFA-NY Inc. is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grants #2010-49400-21847 and #2011-49400-30510.

Last Update: 6-23-14