Growing New Farmers

Many of you are familiar with the Center's work supporting beginning farmers and ranchers around the country. Today, we're hosting a guest post from Community CROPS, an inspiring organization that provides training, land and other resources to new farmers in Nebraska. We're excited to see that CROPS is rapidly expanding and soon to move land to accomodate even more farmers into their training program.

Guest post by Warren Kittler, Growing Farmers Training Program Manager at Community CROPS

What would you do if you dreamed of starting a small farm business, but had no money, no land, and no idea where to start? At Community CROPS, we meet people like that every day; that’s why we started the Growing Farmers Training Program. We’ve helped over 30 small farms launch their enterprise, and we’ve assisted another 10 farmers improve their existing business.

Community CROPS is a nonprofit organization based in Lincoln, but our impact can be felt all over rural southeast Nebraska. Just ask residents of Hastings, where 26th Street Farm offered the city’s first CSA this year. Or go to Falls City, and discover pasture-raised chicken, hoop house vegetable production, and a walnut grove at Quail Acres Farm. Or take a trip to Brainard, where Fox Run Farms has reimagined their family’s farmstead by diversifying production – keeping more residents employed and engaged one of Nebraska's many small towns.

Each of these farms graduated from the Growing Farmers Workshop Series, a comprehensive series of workshops designed to teach aspiring farmers how to grow successful, sustainable farm businesses. Local farmers, business professionals, and Extension educators cover business planning, marketing, and crop planning in the classes, and participants tour five small farms to gain first-hand knowledge of production practices, farm layout, and food safety.

In addition to the workshop series, beginning farmers have the opportunity to launch their farm businesses on our incubator farm.  Over a three-year period, these farmers grow with us, sharing equipment and infrastructure to maximize profits.  This fall, our training farm is moving to a new, larger location in northeast Lincoln, and we plan to triple the amount of land in production in the next five years.

To learn more about the Growing Farmers Training Program, visit the website, blog, or watch the video on our Kickstarter page.