The Northeast Beginning Farmer Development Initiative began with the mission to develop a collaborative, regional network to assist and strengthen the next generation of Northeast farmers. With funding from the Mid-Atlantic Consortium through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food Systems Professions Education (FSPE) initiative, project leaders began construction of a Web site to assist prospective and beginning farmers. The site now provides interactive features for farmers to find information, resources, links and service providers, all relevant to prospective and beginning farmers in the region. The site also enables service providers to promote their programs and services to new farmer clientele.
“As a result of the project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Web site has become a popular, multi-functional, interactive site,” said Kathy Ruhf, director of the New England Small Farm Institute and project director of the Growing New Farmers Project. The network of professionals contacted during the Beginning Farmer Development Initiative evolved into the active, ongoing Growing New Farmers consortium of 214-member organizations.
The FSPE initiative has concluded, but its investment continues to assist beginning farmers. Growing New Farmers (GNF) is the only regional initiative in the United States focusing on the needs of new farmers. GNF effectively raises awareness about new farmers and has fostered the development of programs, services and policies to support farm entry and development in the Northeast region. The initiative also received a two-year companion grant from the northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and GNF was funded by a four-year, $1.7 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to continue supporting new farmers.
For more information, visit www.northeastnewfarmer.org.