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.
- 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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!
- NOFA-NY Organic Production Fact Sheets or apprenticeship resources.
- Want to track your progress in key areas of agriculture and business competencies? Help us test out and improve our Core Competencies Tracking Tool
- Roxbury Farm is a Biodynamic farm in the Hudson Valley that uses a CSA model. They have graciously posted a lot of technical information that they use on the farm, including indexed information about all their crops.
- Read/Download farmer-researched reports and manuals from SARE
- Case studies can point you to some excellent resources and information. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass initiative of the USDA has some great examples of direct marketing stories.
- Profiles in Sustainable Agriculture has published two case studies and are looking to do more in the future.
- Young Farmer Profiles from the National Young Farmers Coalition
- Visit the Small Business Association's page about writing a great business plan
- Beautiful videos of smaller-scale, sustainable farmers talking about everything from their reasons for farming to exactly how they do certain farm activities. They are true experts in their fields!
- Farminars from Practical Farmers of Iowa
- Webinars and recordings from eOrganic.info
Do Some Homework:
- Take an online course via the Cornell Small Farms Program
- Learn where your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office is and what classes and expertise they offer
- 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.
- New Entry Sustainable Farming Project's Farmer Resource Library includes resources on sustainable farming, marketing, and operating a successful small business.
- CADE: Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship connects producers of farm products to markets by providing professional, individualized and confidential business and marketing consulting to agricultural entrepreneurs.
- Cornell University Beginning Farmers Program: see in particular their searchable service provider map
- Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, an agriculture education nonprofit based in Ithaca, NY
- National Young Farmers Coalition
- The Greenhorns
- New England Small Farm Institute
- USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmers
- New Farmer Development Project
- AgSquared farm planning software
- Farm Start-Up: A collection of information brought to you by the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
- Farmer Resource Network: A searchable database of service providers brought to you by Farm Aid (it's more than a concert!)
- Start2farm: The USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project clearing house for information from the programs it funds (including the NOFA-NY Beginning Farmer Program)
- USDA New Farmers website: Launched in June 2014, to help guide beginning farmers through USDA programs and services.
Any questions about the Beginning Farmer Program can be directed to the Beginning Farmer Coordinator:
(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