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

Growing Organically Since 1982

Beginning Farmer Mentorship Program

Mentorship Program

Application is available for download at the bottom of this page.

The Beginning Farmer Program of NOFA/Mass is excited to present the 2016 Mentorship Program.  Based on feedback from mentees and mentors, and research of other successful farm mentorship programs, we have made some changes that will increase the effectiveness of the program and provide improved educational support to our participants.

The NOFA/Mass Beginning Farmer Mentorship Program aims to help fill the education gap between apprentice/farm worker and independent farmer. By pairing mentees with experienced growers who are not their employers, the program enables aspiring farmers to gain farming experiences, skills, and perspectives that they may otherwise miss in their day-to-day work.

“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.”
Past Participant


Mentor Pairing: Mentees will be paired with mentors based on interest, goals and location.  Applicants can request or suggest mentors they are interested in working with or NOFA/Mass will find a strong mentor match.

Workshops and Conferences: Acceptance to the program will give mentees access to the Winter Conference, Summer Conference and stipends to Advanced Grower and on-farm workshops hosted by NOFA/Mass in 2016.   Program participants are required to attend a program kick-off meeting at the Winter Conference and are expected to attend the mid-season program meeting at the Summer Conference.

Mentorship Structure: At the Winter Conference, the Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator will facilitate goal setting and the structuring of the mentorship based on the individuals in each mentor relationship.  Mentees and mentors can choose communication strategies, set dates to visit each other’s farms and map out a plan for the year.

Support: Mentees have access to the Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator who can help facilitate the development of learning plans and connect mentees to resources that aid in their professional development as farmers.  Mentees will also connect with other participants at the conferences to develop a network of beginning farmers with whom they can share information and resources.


Program Timeline: January-December 2016

Application Deadline: December 15th, 2015

Major Events: Winter Conference Kick-off meeting, January 16th, 2016 and Summer Conference mid-season meeting, August, 13th,  2016

Monthly Reporting/Check-In: Communicate with Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator once per month to update on the progress of the mentorship.  Complete quarterly evaluations to update NOFA/Mass on the progress of your mentorship.

Program Cost: $200, NOFA/Mass Membership required. To become a NOFA/Mass member and see all the benefits that membership offers, visit


 “A mentee who has specific learning goals and/or is someone who wants to explore another perspective into their individual farming interests.” 
Recommendation from previous participant

Beginning Farmers who have some farming experience and are interested in deepening their knowledge or pursuing specific goals related to their agricultural career should apply.  Applicants do not need to have access to land or an established farm business to apply. 

 We are seeking participants dedicated to a year of professional development. 

 Example Goals of Previous Years Mentees

            • Develop a season extension plan for their farm
            • Deepen understanding of soil fertility management
            • Improved seedling production and greenhouse management
            • Raise pigs in conjunction with a vegetable operation
            • Develop a business plan for a new farm
            • General management assistance for new managers
            • Learn more about employee management, labor structures
            • Explore the farm model and philosophy of their mentor farmer

Past Mentee/Mentor Pairs

Elena Colman/ Tim Laird, The Food Project
Anna Kelchin/ Chris Kantlenher, White Barn Farm
Peter Wackernagel/ Daniel Botkin, Laughing Dog Farm
Anna Muhammad/ Daniel Staub, Marlborough Street Farm
Robert Friendman/ Julie Rawson, Many Hands Organic Farm
Giulio Caperchi/ Liz Joseph, Heifer International

Application is available for download at the bottom of this page.


The decision to become a mentor should be made carefully with the understanding that as a mentor you will be expected to share some of your time and knowledge with a developing farmer. Our hope is that the process and relationship will prove rewarding for both the mentee and the mentor.

“[Being a Mentor] makes you work harder to make your own farm beautiful and productive to show off to your mentee! Also, you get to compare and contrast how things are growing on different sites based on different conditions. Finally, [being a mentor] helps build a community of people interested in local food production.”
– Past Mentor


NOFA/Mass expects mentors to:

  • Make a 12-month commitment to be a mentor.
  • Give approximately 15 hours over the course of the 12-month program to the mentee with whom they are paired. (More contact is encouraged, if appropriate.)
  • Share advice, technical assistance, wisdom, philosophies and sympathy with diligence and honesty, to the best of the mentor's ability, via phone, email and face-to-face meetings.
  • Host the mentee at your farm at least once during the course of the program.
  • Attend the program kick-off meeting at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference (January 16, 2016 – Worcester) with all other mentor and mentee participants.
  • Provide a final report and evaluation of the mentee and his or her experience with the program at the end of your time as mentor, using a template provided by NOFA/Mass.
  • Be a member of NOFA/Mass in good standing. To become a NOFA/Mass member and see all the benefits that membership offers, visit


In recognition of the important service that the mentor provides, NOFA/Mass agrees to provide each mentor an honorarium of $200 and a $35 discount on the registration fee for the Winter Conference. 

In coordination with other NOFA chapters, NOFA/Mass will also invite mentors to an annual get-together with other mentors from around the region. This will be an opportunity for veteran farmers who are committed to educating the next generation of growers to meet and share knowledge, experiences, and support.


If you are interested in mentoring a beginning farmer and would consider being paired by our mentorship program, please contact Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator, Brittany Sidway Overshiner.   




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