Lake Superior – Farm Beginnings

LAKE SUPERIOR FARM BEGINNINGS

Launching the Next Generation of FarmersLand Stewardship Project

7th Annual LSFB Program is Now Accepting Applications for the 2014-2015 Course!

The Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association (LSSFA) is working in partnership with the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) to get more successful farmers on the land through the Farm Beginnings www.farmbeginnings.org program. The Lake Superior regional course will be held in Ashland, WI.

The application deadline is September 1, 2014. Early bird applications received by August 1, 2014 save $100.

For more information about the Lake Superior Farm Beginnings course, please visit www.farmbeginnings.org. Contact LSP’s Cree Bradley at 218.834.0846 or creeb@landstewardshipproject.org with questions or Karen Benson at 507.523.3366 or lspse@landstewardshipproject.org for an application. Ready to apply? Click here.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Farm Beginnings is a training program focused on getting more farmers on the land, farming sustainably.  The year-long program is intended for people of all ages interested in starting a farm business as well as established farmers pursuing a new farming enterprise.  Farm Beginnings participants learn goal-setting, financial planning, enterprise planning, marketing, business planning, sustainable farming methods and become connected to a supportive network of farmers and resource personnel.

Nine Lake Superior Farm Beginnings classroom sessions run from late October 2014 to April 2015 (approximately two classes per month with longer holiday breaks) and are led by farmers and other agriculture professionals. The in-class portion of the program is followed by an on-farm educational component that includes farm tours, field days and connection to the LSSFA and LSP Farmer Networks. The course fee is $1,500 for two people on the same farm enterprise. Partial scholarships and flexible payment plans are available.

Participants can come from a variety of backgrounds and are interested in a broad spectrum of farming enterprises: beef, dairy, hogs, meat and dairy goats, sheep, poultry, wholesale vegetables, Community Supported Agriculture, organic grains, cut-flowers, cheese, maple syrup and more.

LSFB PARTICIPANTS WILL:

→      Tap the knowledge of some of the most innovative and skilled farmers operating in the Lake Superior region, while also learning from appropriately-staged beginning farmers.
→      Develop lifelong friendships and networks with other beginning and experienced farmers.
→      Learn critical farm management skills such as creative financing, planning for profit, budgeting, and innovative marketing strategies.
→      See sustainable farming practices being used on real farms under a variety of conditions.
→      Learn to view a farm as an interconnected system and learn how goals determine farming practices.
→      Craft a tailor-made strategic farm business plan.

INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN LSFB? JOIN US FOR THE 2014 SUMMER FIELD SESSIONS!

We encourage you to join us this summer for our 2014 summer field sessions which will expose you to ideas and education before the 2014-2015 program begins! If enrolling in LSFB, you will receive a FREE Land Stewardship Project and Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association annual membership which will allow you to participate in 2014 summer field sessions for free. Contact Cree Bradley to RSVP for sessions or to learn more information at creeb@lakesuperiorfarming.org.

Date: Saturday, May 3, 2014, 10am – 1pm
Location: Silver Creek Institute, Two Harbors MN 55616 (1409 Grimmer Road, Two Harbors MN 55616)
Farmer/Host: Cree Bradley, Chelsea Morning Farm and Bianca Seay and Alex Deters, Silver Creek Institute
Topic: Greenhouse Management for Seeding and Transplanting: Supplies, Tools, Infrastructure and Methods

Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014, 10am – 4pm
Location: Zion Lutheran Church, Cloquet MN (1000 Washington Avenue, Cloquet MN 55720)
Farmer/Host: Cindy Hale, Clover Valley Farms
Topic: Apple Orchards and Integrated Pest Management for the Beginning Orchardist

Date: Saturday, June 28, 2014, 2pm – 5 pm
Location: Up North Farm, Gnesen Township in Rural Duluth near Island Lake (6551 Bertstrom Road, Duluth MN 55803)
Farmer/Host: Charlie Danielson, Up North Farm
Topic: Self-Sufficiency and Homesteading: A Homesteaders Practice in Animal Husbandry, Hugelkultur and Permaculture Gardening, Mushrooms, Milking, and More (Home of Up North Fungi)!

Date: Saturday, July 12, 2014, Time TBD
Location: TBD
Farmer/Host: TBD with the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association
Topic: July 12, 2014 celebrates farms across MN through Festival of Farms through the Sustainable Farming Association. A farm tour in the Lake Superior region is being planned!

Date: Saturday, July 26, 2014, Time TBD
Location: Duluth MN
Farmer/Host: Multiple Duluth Urban Farmers
Topic: Urban Farm Tour – Visit a formalized tour of a variety of ultra-small-scale urban farms in Duluth to see how horticulture, animal husbandry, beekeeping, and other farm enterprises can occur in backyard and other urban spaces (many for which market their food). The Urban Farm Tour is a great tour for beginning farmers who are encouraged to start on a small-scale they can learn, make mistakes, and recover from rather than a large scale they cannot.

Date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 10am – 1pm
Location: Great Oak Farm, Mason WI (28100 Maple Ridge Road, Mason WI 54856)
Farmer/Host: Chris Duke, Great Oak Farm
Topic: Whole Farm Synergy: Stacking Livestock and Vegetable/Fruit Crop Enterprises for Efficient, Low-Cost and Complimentary Production

Date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 2pm – 5pm
Location: Hermit Creek Farm, High Bridge WI (65554 Springbrook Road, High Bridge WI 54846)
Farmer/Host: Landis and Steven Spickerman, Hermit Creek Farm
Topic: Useful Tools, Implements and Infrastructure for Immature and Maturing Vegetable Operations

Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014, 10am – 1 pm
Location: University of Minnesota Research Farm, Duluth MN (3566 Riley Road, Duluth MN 55803)
Farmer/Host: Randy Hanson and the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP)
Topic: Restorative Agriculture – Restoring an Abandoned Farm Through Research, Production and Social Farming

Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014, 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Location: Shubat’s Fruits, French River in Rural Duluth (2155 Johnson Road, Duluth MN 55804)
Farmer/Host: Deb Shubat, Shubat’s Fruits
Topic: Small Fruit Production: Varieties, Disease, and Management

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How successful is Farm Beginnings?

More than 600 people have completed the course offered through the Farm Beginnings Collaborative partners. In the Lake Superior region alone, over 70 farm units (individuals and families) have graduated. Of the 600 graduates, over 60% are farming. Over 6,000 acres of land is owned, rented or otherwise farmed by graduates. 59% of graduates have a business plan and 98% of graduates do financial planning. 66% of graduates who are beginning farming say their net farm income has increased an average of $12,500 since taking Farm Beginnings. 91% of graduates use conservation practices.

What are the dates for this year’s class?

Classroom sessions begin late October 2014 and run every couple weeks until April 2015 with a longer break around the holidays. Classes, 9 in total, occur on Saturdays and run for 6 hours. Classes are scheduled to take place in three locations: Watertown, MN, LaCrosse, WI, and Ashland, WI, with the Lake Superior course hosted at the Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland WI. There is no difference in the instruction when in MN or WI, just the location is different to help reach a broader spread of people. Residents of either state should feel encouraged to attend any workshop offered.

The dates of the 2014-2015 Lake Superior Farm Beginnings Program are:

→      Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, November 8, 2014, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Minnetrista MN *
→      Saturday, November 29, 2014, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, December 13, 2014, 10 a.m – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, February 7, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, February 21, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, March 7, 2015, 10 a.m. 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, March 21, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI
→      Saturday, April 11, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Ashland WI

* Session 2 on Saturday November 8 is held as a joint Farm Beginnings session with all 3 courses gathering at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista, MN.

* For LaCrosse, WI or Watertown, MN Farm Beginnings dates, visit www.farmbeginnings.org.

Who are the speakers and what are the topics?

Lake Superior Farm Beginnings is farmer-taught by successful, innovative farmers who are engaged in a variety of farm enterprises throughout northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. In addition, various agricultural professionals and other business constituents are resources. Farm Beginnings topics include: value clarification, goal setting, Whole Farm Planning, Holistic Management, marketing, financial planning, organization structure and low-cost sustainable farm methods.

When is the application due?

Applications are due September 1, 2014. If applied by August 1, an early-bird tuition discount is applied; participants will receive $100 off their $1,500 tuition. Scholarships are available. Scholarship applications are due September 1, 2014. Space and scholarships are limited. Only 20 participants can enroll. We encourage applicants to register early!

Are scholarships available? How do I apply?

A limited number of scholarships are available and are needs-based. Scholarship applications will be included in the class registration package which will be mailed to interested LSFB participants. To apply for a scholarship, you will be required to provide: 1) a narrative of your financial need, passion and capacity for farming, and willingness to give back to the program; 2) Two references; 3) a copy of your most recent tax return; and 4) a Net-Worth Statement describing your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. Scholarship applications are due September 1, 2014. Please include a complete scholarship application with a complete Farm Beginnings Application and mail to:

Land Stewardship Project
Attn: Karen Benson, Farm Beginnings
P.O. Box 130
Lewiston, MN  55952

Is program registration for a single person only?

No. A participant registration includes those in the immediate farm family or enterprise (spouses or farm business partners).

How much does the course cost and is there a deposit?

The LSFB course costs $1,500. You must send a $200 non-refundable check with your application to hold your place in the class. It is not necessary to pay all at once. You can make a payment schedule. Full payment is due at the last classroom session in 2015.

Is the course strictly for organic agriculture?

No. Lake Superior Farm Beginnings presents a process for making decisions about alternative farming strategies including, but not limited to, direct marketing, grass-based farming and organic methods. The program features established, successful farmers as teachers who share their experiences. LSFB focuses on helping participants make the right choice for their goals.

Do you have to be a beginning farmer to take the class?

No. The decision-making process and planning tools of the class are as useful to established farmers as they are to people wanting to begin farming. As a matter of fact, many people who have gone through the class have been farming on the side for a number of years and use the class to help them make the step into full time farming or to transition into other alternative farming strategies.

To learn more about current and future Farm Beginnings courses, contact Lake Superior Farm Beginnings Organizer, Cree Bradley at creeb@landstewardshipproject.org or call 218-834-0846.