The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

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Experiences in the Beginning Farmer Program

The NOFA/Mass Beginning Farmer program began in with a collaborative grant between NOFA/Mass, New York, New Hampshire and New Jersey: USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Standard Project, Cultivating the Next Crop of Northeast Organic Farmers From Apprenticeship to Independence, for the 2011/2012 through 2013/2014 period.

Since then, the program has been funded by donations and grants and continues to serve beginning farmers throughout Massachusetts.  Below are some examples of experiences in the mentorship program that positively impacted the development of beginning farmers in our state.

Quotes from program participants:

  • “The mentorship was a greater learning experience than any of the other ways I’ve tried to learn through.  It’s more akin to having a talking encyclopedia.” - Peter W
  • "I have gained a view into the inter workings of a for profit vegetable farm.  I have been able to observe another kind of management style and understand a little bit more about the relationship between running a farm stand, CSA, and sales to restaurants." - Anna K
  • "I had thought it was going to be me sticking my neck out there on my own, but now having someone give me some good advice is a godsend.”  - Charlotte Trim 
  • "There are always people around who will answer questions, but it is good to have the formal relationship with someone who you know you can call, especially during the busy time of year."  - Miriam Statson
  • "In farming, there is nobody professional showing you the ropes. I knew there were a lot of things I didn’t know, but I wasn't sure what. ... I had only faced the challenges of the backyard, and had figured those out, but didn't know what was beyond the backyard.” - Charlotte Trim 
  • “We talk about the nitty gritty sort of details” - Jade Alicandro
  • Even though it is a loose structure, it is a structure.  So, I don’t have to feel apologetic about sending him emails.” - Sharon Wyrrick
  • “It all comes full circle when you realize how small and tight the community is”
  • “I really appreciated her walking through my fields” - Julie Weitekamp
  • “There is a really strong learning component to just a visit” - Rae Jones
  • The quality of his work is very high.  He is building a reputation of uncompromised of products” - Luke Pryjma
  • “the length of the program is just right, and I have a feeling we'll be friends afterwards" - Charlotte Trim 

Articles about program participants:

Below are articles written by Suzy Konecky, former Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator, and current coordinator, Brittany Overshiner.  Each article highlights one or two of the participants in the program and details what the experience has been like for them.

Beginning Farmers Access Land With Low Risk - November 2015, Elena Colman and Karl Goethert describe their innovative land access

Unusual Beginning for a New Urban Farmer - September 2015, Anna Muhammad talks about how she began farming and the benefits of her mentorship

Directing an Opera - written January 2013 - mentees Sharon Wyrrick, Maddlie Elling and Abe Hunrichs share their stories  

Questions about Lightening - written March 2013 - mentees Rae Jones and Luke Pryjma share their experiences 

Coming Full Circle - written May 2013 - Christa Georgeson and Julie Weitekamp share their stories 

A Peach Farm Grows - written June 2013 - Journeyperson Charlotte Trim shares her stories 

Dancing Tomato Farm is Growing  written September 2013 - Journeyperson Jade Alicandro shares her story 

Farmer Mentorship: An Invaluable Career Move - written October 2013 - mentees Lana Cannon and Zannah Porrter share their stories

 Apply for the 2016 Mentorship Program

Please contact Brittany Overshiner at brittany@nofamass.org for questions about the Beginning Farmer Program.  

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