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Improving our Farm-Training Community: Helping Farmers to Improve On-Farm Training and Providing High-Impact Group Education to New Farmers

Grant Program: OAR
Agricultural Sectors: Fields Crops & Forage, Fruit, Livestock, Vegetable
Region: Statewide
Project Duration: 4/1/2015 - 4/30/2017
Amount Awarded: $60,000.00
Lead Organization: NOFA-NY
Project Leader: Bethany Wallis
Co-Leaders: Nancy Apolito, Bethany Wallis
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Proposal Abstract

Aspiring, new and next-generation farmers (beginning farmers) lack hands-on experience, knowledge and an adequate pool of experienced-farmer trainers and mentors to teach them farming skills. They risk starting unprofitable, inefficient or short-lived farm businesses.  NOFA-NY’s programs for experienced and new farmers are a solid foundation of reliable information regarding the best practices for quality and fulfilling career-focused on-farm training and mentorship, and this foundation must be built upon. This project will improve New York farmers’ capacity to train beginning farmers through a guide to structuring and evaluating on-farm training (“The Core-Learning Plan”) and other fact sheets. The project incorporates field days and workshops on production, farm labor-efficiency, marketing, and farm business topics to enhance beginning and experienced producers’ farm viability, as farmers rely on NOFA-NY’s continued education and peer networking to improve their farm businesses. Experienced farmers in New York will improve their ability to train beginning farmers on these topics and thus find improved farm efficiency.  Resources will be developed in collaboration with other leading farm training organizations connected to NOFA-NY, then be published widely so many producers may contribute to an increased quality and quantity of training opportunities so beginning organic farmers start and maintain successful, long-lived farm businesses.

Final Report Summary Statement

NOFA-NY is excited to have created valuable tools for both beginning and experienced farmers to use in their farm management.  The On Farm Skills Development Guide allows experienced farmers across farming sectors to adopt, adapt and incorporate higher standards of beginning-farmer training. The Guide encourages use of additional resources, education, and networking opportunities for beginning farmers supplementing the training given by experienced farmers. These events enhance beginning farmers’ business and production skills through a focus on topics not learned through on-farm training. Educating experienced farmers on how to be better employee trainers works to build the agricultural community through employee retention, more skilled beginning farmers and larger opportunity for farm transfers. Additional NOFA-NY created fact sheets to provide additional information to farmers on organic practices in various fields of agriculture.  All of these resources can be access on our website at www.nofany.org.

Project Impact Data

Producers Participating: 15

Producers Advising: 9

Retained Full-Time Jobs: 14

Articles/Publications: 8

Presentations: 2

Workshops: 6

Total Producers Engaged: 185

Documents and Photos

 On Farm Skills Development Guide.pdf
Available in quarter one this is the first draft of the On Farm skills Development Guide distributed for the first trial.
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