UNITY, Maine — The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) has announced the newest members of two of its premier farmer training programs, the Journeyperson Program and the Maine Farm Resilience Program. MOFGA offers a full complement of farmer training programs to help farmers of all levels achieve their goals.
MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program is geared to farms with at least two years of experience and offers two years of support that includes mentorship with an established farmer, an educational stipend, resources to help secure land tenure, and additional benefits. Bo Dennis, MOFGA’s new farmer programs specialist, says “After the most competitive application process in years, we are excited to welcome an incredible mix of Journeypersons as the 2021 starting cohort. This year’s cohort covers a wide geographic range as well as areas of production that includes wholesale and direct-to-consumer vegetable producers, florists, and apiarists. Most producers are in their first few years of business and are excited for the different elements of the program.”
Rachel Chapman of Seven Moon Farm, located in Montville, is one of the participants recently accepted into the program. “A primary goal for the program is the emotional support of having a cohort of folks going through similar growing pains in transitioning from managers, or crew on someone else’s farm, to farm owners themselves. It’s such a big jump; no matter how much experience I tell myself I have, I inevitably feel underprepared. This makes the mentorship component important to me as well, as it creates a safe space to ask questions and acknowledge inexperience without fear of reproach,” says Chapman. There are currently 25 participating farms in the Journeyperson Program and over 200 farms have been served since the program’s founding in 1999.
The Maine Farm Resilience Program also offers two years of support for beginning farmers. Focused on farms with five to nine years of experience, this program assists farms grappling with critical questions of scaling up, accessing and adapting to new markets, managing risk, innovation and diversification, and re-strategizing business plans to achieve long-term farm viability. “Our 2021 Maine Farm Resilience Program farmers bring a lot of farming and business experience to the table. We have found once again this year that the parallel needs of the farms who were accepted into the program are what will make them such a strong and successful cohort. Each farm identified environmental, marketing and financial risks associated with running their businesses and are excited to delve into our trainings and to work together with their peers to overcome obstacles on the horizon and support each other to continue to farm, and eventually retire, successfully,” says Anna Mueller, MOFGA’s farmer professional development specialist.
Jenny Minard and John Roscoe operate Wild Tilth Farm, a MOFGA- certified organic farm in Sullivan. They are graduates of MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program and are now participating in the Maine Farm Resilience Program. Minard says of their participation that “small-scale farmers face the same challenges as all small business entrepreneurs. Add to that the challenges of working with nature, evolving regulations, a short growing season, and countless unforeseen hurdles – like, say a pandemic. We are so appreciative that MOFGA provides so much support – technical assistance, educational opportunities, advocacy, marketing, and, probably most importantly, fostering a community that supports organic agriculture. We are very grateful for all MOFGA does, and the help they have given us.”
To learn more about the farmers participating in these programs or about MOFGA’s other education and training opportunities for farmers visit mofga.org.
–Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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