Finding land to farm can be an enormous stumbling block for new farmers. But you can get a leg up on your search by attending a one-day course.
Part of a multiyear project led by Minnesota-based Renewing the Countryside, in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa and other regional organizations, the Farmland Access Bootcamp will provide beginning farmers with a comprehensive overview of land access strategies, tools and resources, and help them plan their next steps toward land tenure. The daylong training session will be Feb. 9 at the Maytag Innovation Center in Newton, Iowa. This meeting is designed for farmers with 10 or less years of experience, who are ready to begin or are actively searching for land. Preregistration is $25 per farmer, plus $10 for additional farm-partners or $10 for PFI members.
Supporting new farmers
Participants will also be introduced to the Farmland Access Hub, an initiative created to help new farmers navigate the increasingly difficult process of finding affordable land to farm in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
The hub includes partners working to provide new farmers with integrated, supportive ways to help them gain affordable and secure access to farmland. The hub offers workshops, daylong training, and no-cost, one-on-one coaching with farmland access navigators. Technical advisers include attorneys, real estate professionals, financial experts and seasoned farmers.
The training session on Feb. 9 at Newton, presented by Kate Edwards and Brett Olson from Renewing the Countryside, is a response to the unprecedented challenges beginning farmers face when looking for land: chiefly rising prices and inadequate financing.
“There is a lack of services to help new farmers acquire land,” Edwards says. “While there are a number of places where you can go to learn planting, pest management or soil maintenance, when it comes to navigating the complexities of financing options, lease agreements, zoning regulations, etc., farmers are often left in the dark. The Farmland Access Hub is working to change that.”
Coaching, outside expertise available
Edwards, who owns Wildwood Farms, a 200-plus subscriber CSA farm near Iowa City, has been serving as Iowa’s first Farmland Access Navigator. “For beginning farmers, it can be so hard to get on the land. With the coaching, and outside expertise we can pull in through the Farmland Access Hub, we can make all the difference. Our goal with the bootcamp is for farmers to walk away with concrete, manageable next steps they can take to get land tenure,” she says.
Olson, who serves as a navigator in Minnesota, is co-founder of Renewing the Countryside, a regional nonprofit that has nearly two decades working with farmers, food-makers and other rural entrepreneurs.
Renewing the Countryside’s Land Access Project is funded, in part, by a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant. In addition to February’s Land Access Bootcamp, other regional workshops and boot camps are planned in 2019. The project’s four Farmland Access Navigators are currently providing services in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Farmers can register for the boot camp online at gotfarmland.org; advance registration is required. For more information about the project, upcoming training dates or to contact a Farmland Access Navigator, contact Eli Goodwell at email@example.com.
Source: Renewing the Countryside, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source.