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Beginning Farmers Resources

Resources for beginning farmers and existing farms are available through the UMass Extension program, part of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As the state's land-grant institution, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst has the technical resources, faculty and professional staff to provide the research-based assistance needed by farmers of all backgrounds. This includes diagnostic services for pest and soil management, technical guides on all aspects of sustainable production and marketing of food crops and two research farms where new crops and production practices are constantly evaluated and refined. We draw upon our Extension history, a body of experience with a wide range of educational apporaches to adult learning, from one-on-one training on the farm, to interactive workshops and academic coursework. Our goal is to enhance the likelihood of success of new agricultural enterprises by making the best resources and training available to all new or diversifying farmers in Massachusetts.

Educational Programs for Beginning Farmers

Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment and UMass Extension, UMass Amherst

Calendar of Events: educational opportunities throughout the year

The Green Directory: annually updated directory of resources for farmers and Green Industry professionals.

Pest Alerts/Messages: timely notices about pests on specific crops.

Mass Aggie Seminars: Annual entry level workshops and training sessions by UMass Extension Fruit Program. Held on a variety of topics such as growing and pruning tree fruits and small fruits.

Green School: Annual comprehensive educational training program for Green Industry professionals and beginning vegetable farmers from UMass Extension, which includes a 60- hour training program for garden center managers and employees, private or municipal grounds managers and personnel, landscape and lawn care operators, growers of nursery crops and vegetable crops and professional gardeners.

Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst

Stockbridge School of Agriculture website

Two-year Associates Degree: Programs in Arboriculture and Community Forest Management, Equine Management, Sustainable Food and Farming, Sustainable Horticulture, Landscape Contracting, Turfgrass Management.

Four-year Bachelors Degree: Programs in Plant & Soil Sciences, Horticultural Science, Sustainable Food & Farming, and Turfgrass Science and Management.

Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate program: 15 credit program

Online courses: Courses offered by the UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Program

The Student Farming Enterprise: In-depth course for undergraduate beginning farmers taught at UMass Amherst

Cornell University

Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources

MDAR’s Agricultural Business Training Program
This program has been around for many years and offers a five-session course “Exploring Your Small Farm Dream.” MDAR offers another course, “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity,” for farmers who have been operating for two or more years and want to make new investments or expand.

New England Small Farm Institute

New England Small Farm Institute website

Exploring the Small Farm Dream: course or self-directed workbook to help use decide if agriculture is the right path for you.

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Tufts University

Farm Employment Directory: listing of available farm jobs arranged by county to make it easy to search. Updated regularly.

Training Farm Program: for those who have completed a farm business plan as part of New Entry’s Farm Planning Course.

Explore Farming!” course: offered by New Entry Sustainable Farming, Tufts University. This is the first in a series of courses available through New Entry to take you from making the decision to be a farmer through planning, apprenticeship and so forth.

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project website

The Farm School

The tuition based Learn to Farm program at the Farm School blends classroom and field instruction in vegetable crop production, livestock management, business planning, product marketing, and a variety of practical skills including carpentry and welding. Must be college age or older to apply. UMass credit possible. Located in Orange, Massachusetts.

The Farm School website

Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, Inc.

Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, Inc. is a nonprofit organization providing internships and apprenticeships, located in Orange, MA.

Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, Inc.