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Farmer Advancement

The Marbleseed Farmer Advancement Program expands the reach of training for beginning organic farmers throughout the Midwest and provides educational programming for the 5 to 10-year farmer. This program builds on existing resources offered by Marbleseed in partnership with Renewing the Countryside, The Land Connection, and Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Farmer Advancement creates a pipeline for beginning farmers through comprehensive training sessions designed to support all stages of beginning farmers. These include participation in the beginning farmer track at the annual Marbleseed Organic Farming Conference, regional New Farmer U trainings with special focus on business management, and the year-long farmer-to-farmer mentorship program.

Support for all stages of beginning farmers

The needs of a brand-new farmer are different from those of a farmer in their tenth year. While the 0-4-year farmer may be more interested in basic production, varietal selection, and developing a basic marketing plan, a 4-6-year farmer may be more interested in managing employees, enterprise expansion, and navigating a transition into wholesale markets. A 7-10-year farmer may be more interested in ongoing professional development, innovations in their sector of production, and developing their skills as educators to help support the new beginning farmers.

Our collective of regional organizations works together to ensure training content is available for the different stages of a beginning farm’s operations, supporting and encouraging the long-term stability of farmers and ensuring their business’ viability. We also work to ensure our more experienced beginning farmers are ready to support the new farmers who enter our network to keep passing on the ‘lessons learned’ from each operation.

Training advocates to address systemic barriers

Key to Farmer Advancement is addressing systemic barriers that have blocked historically underserved beginning farmers from accessing funding and support services. To address this, the Farmer Advancement Program is expanding the definition of mentoring beyond business planning and production, to create a team of Farmer Advancement Advocates.

Farmer Advocates will be trained to help impacted farmers navigate and overcome barriers to funding, land access, organic certification and associated costs, and other available farmer social supports. To ensure that the services and approach uplift rather than disempower historically underserved farmer communities, funding is being allocated for a cadre of five organic farmer specialists/consultants from underserved communities to provide guidance for these enhanced services. Marbleseed is currently working with Renewing the Countryside to build out this key initiative in the Farmer Advancement Program.

This program is currently being built out. Check back for more resources and sign-ups to get involved.