Beginning Farmer Resources

Beginning Farmer Resources

I recently joined a growing community on Google+ for “Future Farmers” and I thought it might be helpful to share a list of beginning farmer resources. Now I wouldn’t say that I’m a beginning farmer, but I definitely fit into the category “Future Farmer.” During my research phase I have come across these sites that provided factual information, videos and even online courses.

Beginning Farmer Resources that have helped me:

  • National Young Farmers Coalition – Bootstrapping Bloggers
    By collaborating with several bootstrapping farmers during the year, the National Young Farmers Coalition put together “Bootstrapping Bloggers,” a series that gives you a dose of the daily life and challenges next generation farmers face. I found the series informative and it was fun to follow along. Oh and regardless of your age, don’t let the “young” part dissuade you – what they mean by young is not age, but in terms of farming experience.
  • Sugarmtnfarm.com Blog
    Sugar Mountain Farm is located in West Topsham, Vermont. Specializing in pastured pork, their site offers a wealth of tips and tricks as they document daily life on their rocky, hillside farm. Plus, Walter & Holly are punctual when it comes to answering your questions online; they are quite active in the comment sections.
  • The Greenhorns Free Library of Resources
    The Greenhorns is an active group whose mission is to promote, recruit and support new farmers in America. I found their free publications library well researched and full of facts about the current status of sustainable farming in the US. Check out “The Greenhorns Guide for Beginning Farmers.” This is a guidebook written by young farmers, for young farmers designed to help you start planning for a successful farming venture.
  • Northeast Beginning Farmers Project
    A project managed by the Cornell Cooperative Extensions of NE New York, this site has also put out a “Guide to Farming.” You can download the entire guide or just a section. Of course this applies mainly to NYS residents and markets. Outside of NY, make sure you check out your Local Agricultural Extension Office as they will be sure to have lots of information on hand or on their website designed to help grow and support beginning farmers.
  • Beginning Farmers
    As stated on their website: “Beginningfarmers.org is a comprehensive compilation of information resources on farm financing, finding land, business planning, agricultural production and marketing, and much more.” In addition to this they often list career and farming internship opportunities available nationwide.

Don’t forget to get your hands dirty too!

Of course websites are a fine source of info and if you’re like me, you’ve got tons of books on farming: but there is no substitute for getting out in the fields and getting your hands dirty. The easiest path to hands-on experience is to hook up with a local farm nearby and see if you can offer to volunteer some time with them. They will probably appreciate the help – just be mindful of the time of year as some will be busier than others.

Maybe you want to travel a bit to volunteer? Then here are some great resources: wwoof.org and workaway.info. These sites hook up farms and other working abroad hosts with folks who want to volunteer world-wide. When I lived in Norway, we signed up to be ‘workawayers’ on a goat farm in France. This opportunity provided us with not only hands-on experience milking goats and making chevre, but also practicing some French. C’est si bon!

Happy Learning and Researching these Beginning Farmer Resources!

So I hope you find these beginning farmer resources as useful as I have. And if you’ve come across some other sites in your journey, please feel free to add them in the comments. Oh and if you’re on Google+ and you’re interested in farming, why not join the discussion over at the Future Farmers+ community.

Keep in touch!