AUGUSTA — The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is now accepting applications for their Farm Beginnings program. The eight-week course, which will be held virtually from January through February 2021, helps farmers with a strong commitment to creating a sustainable farm business achieve their goals.
“Farm Beginnings was invaluable in helping us to attain our goals for 2015 and to buy our current farm. It helped us focus and gave us tools to be better record keepers and decision makers,” said Richard Lee of Tender Soles Farm in Richmond, Maine.
Designed for farmers with at least one year of production experience, this series of intensive workshops helps participants to develop a whole farm plan through realistic goal-setting, reflection and assessment of resources, skills and markets. Each week consists of independent work through an online learning platform and a Zoom call with all farmer-participants. The course is farmer-led and professionally facilitated with course material covered through a combination of classroom presentations, group discussions, guest speakers and panels, as well as guided readings and exercises.
MOFGA’s Farm Beginnings course has helped farmers access Farm Service Agency (FSA) financing, learn more about the resources in Maine to support their farm development and build a farming network. “Farmers find it supportive to be in class with other farmers in a similar stage of farm development to create a space of trust and openness about farming experiences,” said Bo Dennis, MOFGA’s beginning farmer programs specialist. Dennis reported that 90% of graduates are still farming and that 87% of graduates have increased sustainable farming practices.
Enrollment is open to any farm looking to apply whole farm planning and financial management tools to their operation. Course tuition is $750 per farm, and numerous scholarships are available. Applications are available at www.mofga.org/Programs/Farmer-
–Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
For more articles out of New England, click here.