LAKE SUPERIOR FARM BEGINNINGS
Launching the Next Generation of Farmers
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or Karen Benson at 507.523.3366 or email@example.com for an application. Ready to apply? Click here.
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 to April (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.
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.
* 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.
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. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 218-834-0846.