The age of farmers in this country averages in the 60s, so finding new farmers is an important task. Practical Farmers of Iowa has made numerous efforts with mentoring and other programs to forward that goal. The group is now launching a campaign to help with those efforts.
Here is more about the campaign from Practical Farmers of Iowa:
AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers announced a campaign June 7, 2013, to raise $75,000 by October 1st to continue its robust programming on behalf of beginning farmers. There are 1,500 beginners in the Practical Farmers network, and that number is growing rapidly.
The beginners report they have joined the network for many reasons, from being part of a community of other beginners who understand the unique challenges they face to accessing mentoring from experienced farmers, production tips, business plan help and so much else.
“We believe Practical Farmers of Iowa is valuable in many ways, none more critical than its role encouraging this new generation of farmers,” says Dan Wilson, president of PFI’s board of directors. Wilson is also the father of beginning farmers and has mentored other beginners through PFI. “These beginners need support, and Practical Farmers has stepped up with an array of programming that helps them. The 100 Days, 100 Beginners Campaign will ensure that we continue to serve those beginners well.”
Monies raised from the 100 Days, 100 Beginners campaign will support:
· Coaching For beginning farmers enrolled in PFI’s Savings Incentive Program. The “SIP” program matches beginning farmers’ savings (up to $2,400) and helps them develop strong business plans. Fifty-nine beginning farmers are already enrolled in the program; Practical Farmers will serve more than 100 in the program by 2016.
· Farmer Mentors for the beginners, so that they learn from others’ mistakes. Practical Farmers matched 50 mentor pairs in 2012 and 2013, and will pay farmers a total of $25,000 for participating as mentors in the program.
· Farminars – free 90-minute online seminars – that help farmers learn from other farmers. The farminars have been viewed more than 25,000 times.
· www.Find a Farmer.net, Practical Farmers’ website that matches land seekers with landowners. Almost 600 are registered on the site.
· Retreats and Field Days, so that the beginners are developing a community of friends and advisors who will serve them well through the highs and lows of farming. Practical Farmers is holding or sponsoring more than 45 field days this summer and fall alone.
Kate Edwards, a beginning vegetable farmer at Wild Woods Farm near Solon, is one of the beginning farmers who has benefitted from Practical Farmers’ programming and supports the 100 Days, 100 Beginners campaign. “I like the hands-on, calm wisdom that comes from PFI interaction with real farmers,” Kate says. “Each event is a personal and professional affirmation of being a farmer, and in the right community.”
To contribute to the 100 Days, 100 Beginners Campaign, visit www.practicalfarmers.org or call (515) 232-5661.
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Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.