Friday, January 6, 2012

Did You Know about CT NOFA's Support for Beginning Farmers?

Below is a press release about CT NOFA's work supporting beginning farmers. If you are a beginning farmer, or know one, let them know about our programs and that we're planning six beginning farmer workshops and offering scholarships to the CT NOFA Winter Conference!
From Grassroots International's Flickr:

Contact: Kristiane Huber
January 2, 2012

To replace the estimated half of American farmers expected to retire in the next decade, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has called for 100,000 new farmers. In Connecticut, where the average age of our food producers is 57, while the demand for “Connecticut Grown” increases, it is evident that beginning farmers require support in farm planning, financing and land access. Agriculture’s $2 billion contribution to the state’s economy as well as the value of local, sustainable foods means that Connecticut needs to attract new farmers to the state. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) seeks to support beginning farmers with a variety of programs supporting organic, women, young and beginning farmers.

CT NOFA’s Getting Started in Organic Farming Conference will be held in Rockfall, CT on Saturday, January 28, 2012. The conference features speakers with farming, business and organizing expertise who will discuss organic certification, green house planting, marketing, land access, and specific organic growing methods. Confirmed speakers include Dina Brewster from the Hickories in Ridgefield, Bryan O'Hara from Tobacco Road Farm in Lebanon, and Shannon Raider from Common Ground Farm in New Haven. The conference aims to help provide new and transitioning organic farmers with the tools and the expertise necessary to be successful. To register, visit and click on Getting Started in Organic Farming.

Seventeen women enrolled in the third year of CT NOFA and Holistic Management International's Beginning Women Farmer Program and have already attended three seminars to learn whole farm management practices. This program will move outdoors in the spring to on-farm workshops and tours.

The Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire NOFA chapters, as well as the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), have received a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program to fund the regional Beginning Farmer Program, "Cultivating the Next Crop of Northeast Organic Farmers from Apprenticeship to Independence". The goal of the collaborative project is to help each organization boost their Beginning Farmer outreach through educational programs, networking opportunities and overall support to aspiring and beginning farmers and to experienced farmers who help to train them in the art and science of agriculture.

Each state is expected to organize and provide six beginning farmer workshops in 2012, a beginning farmer workshop track at their chapter's Winter Conference and an online service to match apprentices with farm-hosts and mentors. The grant also enables CT NOFA to offer scholarships to beginning farmers attending the Winter Conference. Interested farmers with ten years of experience or less are encouraged to visit for more information.

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