The Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association is offering its fifth annual 2012-2013 Lake Superior Farm Beginnings program starting this fall. Applications materials are available by contacting Cree Bradley at email@example.com or 218.834.0846.
PROGRAM OVERVIEW Lake Superior Farm Beginnings (LSFB) is a program of the Sustainable Farming Association, licensed by the Land Stewardship Project and supported by the national Farm Beginnings Collaborative. LSFB provides opportunities for beginning and transitioning farmers to learn firsthand about value clarification and goal setting, whole farm planning, business plan development, marketing and distribution, financial management and low-cost, sustainable farming methods. LSFB provides 90 hours of training and hands-on learning opportunities in the form of classroom sessions, farm tours and skill sessions. It is a year- long training and support effort. Farmers and other agricultural professionals are the primary presenters, mentors and steering committee members. 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.
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 farm strategic 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 60 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 mid-November 2012 and run every couple weeks until April 2013 with a longer break around the holidays. Classes, 10 in total, occur on Saturdays and run for 6 hours. Classes are scheduled to take place in Ashland, Wisconsin at the Agriculture and Energy Resource Center. MN residents interested in Farm Beginnings should feel encouraged to attend the WI classes (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).
The dates of this year’s program are:
Saturday, November 17, 2012 – 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, December 1, 2012– 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, December 15, 2012 – 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, February 16, 2013– 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, March 2, 2013– 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, March 16, 2013 – 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, March 30, 2013 – 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, April 13, 2013 – 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday, April 27, 2013 – 10 am to 4 pm
May through September 2013 - 10 Summer Field Sessions on Farms Throughout the Region (Dates to be Determined)
Saturday, October, 2013 (Date to be Determined) – 10 am to 4 pm
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 November 10, 2012. Scholarship applications are due October 30, 2012. Space is limited. Only 20 participants can enroll. We encourage applicants to register early!
Are scholarships available? How do I apply for them?
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) a Net-Worth Statement describing your income, expenses, assets and liabilities; and 3) a copy of your most recent tax return. Scholarship applications are due October 30, 2012.
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 $1,100. You must send a $100 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 2013.
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 program contact Farm Beginnings coordinator Cree Bradley: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (218) 834-0846.