This time of year, things are in full swing on area farms. Vegetables (and weeds!) are growing fast and furious. Animals are growing fat on green pastures. Hay is being cut, baled, and stored away for the winter. And The Land Connection’s Central Illinois Farm Beginnings students are out there, learning from their farmer-mentors and developing the skills and community connections that will launch their farming careers.
Did you know that since 2005 The Land Connection has trained over 173 aspiring farmers, and that over two thirds of them are currently farming? The Central Illinois Farm Beginnings program is a farmer-led, community-based initiative that equips new farmers with the business planning skills, local resources, and support network that are essential to their future success. With a focus on environmentally and economically sustainable models, we are working to build a thriving food system to provide healthy, delicious, locally-grown food for Central Illinois.The graying of America’s farmer population is a very real phenomenon, but where are we going to find all of the new farmers to bring creativity, energy, and an ecological mindset back to the field? You’d be surprised! New farmers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all skin colors, and all types of backgrounds. If you’ve been thinking about starting a farm, or know someone who is, we can help you build the skills and confidence to join this growing movement. We start with a series of business planning seminars in the fall and winter, followed by customized mentorships and access to on-farm field days throughout the growing season.
The CIFB course begins in October, and applications are being accepted now through the end of August. Tuition is $1250, and up to two people from each farm family or partnership may attend the course on a single tuition. There is an early registration discount for applications received by August 2nd. Partial scholarships are available, but you must apply by August 2nd to be eligible. See central illinois farm beginnings for more details and for information on how to apply.
If you are curious about farming, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to take the plunge, consider attending one of our Is Entrepreneurial Farming for You? workshops on July 8th or July 29th. This three-hour workshop will help you think through the challenges of starting a farm business, evaluate your skills and knowledge, and determine some practical next steps. See https://www.thelandconnection.org/training-farmers/entrepreneurial-farming-for-you/ to register for a workshop.
If you are not interested in farming yourself, but share our belief that this work is essential for our collective health and well-being, you can help us train the next generation of farmers by donating to the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings Scholarship Fund. Your generosity will go toward helping a new farmer take Farm Beginnings and launch their future career!