Everyone is welcome to join the effort!
Growing Connecticut's Community Farms
January 7, 2006
Valley Lab, Windsor Directions
Community Gardening Conference
Goal of Project:
Linking farmers and potential farmers to farmland, and finding out what is needed to make these links successful.
In our meetings thus far, we have identified many helpful resources and also many obstacles to getting farmers successfully onto farmland. NOFA is considering writing grant proposals to address two issues that have come up in our meetings:
1. Expand the "Transition to Organic Farming Conference" which occurs annually in January and provides some basic information to many new farmers as well as experienced farmers moving into organic;
2. Creating a network of community farm organizations. These are generally groups of citizens of a town seeking to set up a working farm on land owned by their town or local land trust.
We have had participation from the
University of Connecticut,
The Natural Resources Conservation Service,
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture,
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station,
The Working Lands Alliance,
The Connecticut Farmland Trust,
Several landowners that are searching for farmers for available farmland,
and many other organizations and individuals working toward similar goals.
How can we assist farmers and landowners as they wait for a LandLink program to develop at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture? (Funding for this program will become available over the next several months.)
What role can this group play in supporting the LandLink program, helping to make it effective, and providing additional information and support needed by both the farmers and the landowners once a link has been made?
What can we do as a group to learn from models around the region (community farms, incubator farms, educational programs for beginning farmers)?
How can we work collaboratively with plans forming at the University of Connecticut to work with underserved (minority, women, and resource-poor) farmers?
Resources for new/beginning farmers and access to land:
Websites and Associated Organizations:
Growing New Farmers: This was a huge project to coordinate programs for new farmers across the Northeast. There is a tremendous amount of information at this website, the work of many people working hard to identify the needs of new farmers and to address them.
Land Link program: New England Land Link, based at the New England Small Farm Institute
In addition to running the New England Land Link program, NESFI has a lot of other information about farm transfer, farm succession, small farms, farm planning, etc.:
Public Act 228, which sets aside funding for the CT FarmLink program, purchasing farmland, and matching grants to towns and farmers for promoting CT agriculture.
Equity Trust: The mission of Equity Trust is to promote equity in the world by changing the way people think about and hold property. One part of their work is a revolving loan fund assisting Community Supported Agriculture.
CenterEdge Project: Building a coalition of urban, suburban, and rural people to learn and educate about the consequences of sprawl in CT. Led by the Office of Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Has become of the “1,000 Friends of CT” group, but I haven’t found a website for them.
CRAFT: Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training in Western CT. Apprenticeship program on several cooperating organic farms.
New England Willing Workers on Organic Farms (an apprenticeship placement service):
An amazing list of agricultural website links: http://www.smallfarm.org/library/aglinks.html
Working Lands Alliance: www.workinglandsalliance.org
CT Farmland Trust: http://www.ctfarmland.org/
American Farmland Trust: www.farmland.org
UConn Farm Risk Management Site: www.canr.uconn.edu/ces/frm
Farm transfer/ Estate Planning: www.canr.uconn.edu/ces/frm/estate_planning.html
Farmland Preservation: www.canr.uconn.edu/ces/frm/farmland_preservation.html
CT Dept. of Agriculture: www.ct.gov/doag/site/default.asp
Farmland Preservation Program: www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=1368&q=259136
CT Weekly Agricultural Report: http://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=1368&q=258958
Northeast Organic Farming Association of CT: www.ctnofa.org
Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture (nationwide listing from the National Agriculture Library):
Connecticut Farm Bureau: http://www.cfba.org
Models of Incubator Farms or New Farmer Training Programs:
Intervale Farms Program (Vermont): a small farm incubator program that leases land, greenhouses, and equipment to new farmers who set up small organic farm enterprises on Intervale land: www.intervale.org/FarmsProgram.htm
Nuestras Raices (Holyoke, MA): Started as an urban gardening program with the Puerto Rican community. Now includes an incubator farm, Tierra de Oportunidades, as well as a community kitchen, bakery, restaurant, youth program, etc.
Southside Community Land Trust (Providence, RI): Also started with community gardens, expanded to include environmental programs, city farm. http://users.ids.net/~sclt/
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (Tufts University with farms in Dracut and other towns): Trains immigrant and refugee farmers in agriculture with an 18 week program. At the end of 18 weeks, the farmers should have in hand a production plan, business plan, and marketing plan, and be ready to farm on a small scale at the incubator farm. At the end of 3 years, the project helps the new farmer get established on other land (generally rented from local farmers). http://nutrition.tufts.edu/research/nesfp/
Books about Access to Land, Planning, Business Management, Starting up a Farm:
Holding Ground: A Guide to Northeast Farmland Tenure and Stewardship. Annette Higby, Kathy Ruhf, and Andrea Woloschuk, 2004. New England Small Farm Institute.
Farmland Transfer & Protection in New England: A Guide for Entering and Exiting Farmers. Kathy Ruhf. 1999. New England Small Farm Institute.
Exploring the Small Farm Dream. Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You? Self- Study Edition. Kathryn Hayes and others. 2002. New England Small Farm Institute.
Whole Farm Planning: Ecological Imperatives, Personal Values and Economics. Elizabeth Henderson and Karl North, 2004. NOFA Organic Principles and Practices Handbook Series.
Business Planning Workbook: A Guide to Developing Your Farm Transition Business Plan. Gene Gouthier, Rick Hermonot and others. 2001. First Pioneer Farm Credit, ACA.
You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise. Joel Salatin. 1998. Polyface Farm.
Finding the Niche: Case Studies of Beginning Small-Scale Farmers. Katherine Griffith. 1991. Wisconsin Rural Development Center. Available from NESFI.
Listening to New Farmers: Findings from New Farmer Focus Groups. Sue Ellen Johnson and others. 2001. New England Small Farm Institute.
The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing. Neil Hamilton. 1999. Drake University (available from NESFI)
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses. 2003. Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.
Used Farm Equipment: Assessing Quality, Safety, and Economics. NRAES-25. James Garthe and others. 1987. Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service.
CSA Across the Nation: Findings from the 1999 CSA Survey. Daniel Lass and others. 2003. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. (also available from NESFI)
Farmers and their Diversified Horticultural Marketing Strategies. Vern Grubinger.1999. Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont .
PO Box 164 • Stevenson, CT 06491
phone: (203) 888-5146 • fax: (203) 888-9280