The UMass Extension IPM Mentor Farm Program is an on-farm IPM training program. We work with about 10 diversified fruit and vegetable growers distributed across Massachusetts each year to improve IPM implementation on their farms, by digging deeper into a handful of the most challenges issues over a sustained period of 1-3 growing seasons. Mentor farms then go on to share their knowledge with their employees and the larger farming community through educational programming and leadership. We aim to increase adoption of IPM practices on a diverse range of scales, production systems (conventional or organic), and farm business models (wholesale, CSA, farmstand etc.) and the program is open to any interested MA growers.
Mentor Farm Process: We start by making an IPM plan in the first winter, then we visit Mentor Farms biweekly throughout the season, and conduct an interview at the end of each season to evaluate how the plan worked and how we can improve crop or pest management the next season. Mentor Farms then share the knowledge they gained with their farm employees, apprentices, neighbors, and farming communities by providing training, hosting workshops, and more.
Participants in the Mentor Farm Program must agree to the following:
1) Work with Extension staff to set IPM goals for key pests, crops, and the farm pre-season.
2) Meet in-person with Extension staff once every 2 weeks for 1-2 hours of on-farm training.
3) Attend an annual advisory meeting.
4) Be willing to host a field walk or twilight meeting on your farm so that a larger grower audience may learn about IPM methods being used on the farm.
5) Serve as a “mentor,” by sharing knowledge gained with other farmers in your community.
6) Provide program feedback by participating in IPM Advisory Board
In exchange for agreeing to the above requirements, each Mentor Farm will receive the following services:
1) Direct, in-person consultation about your farm with a member of the UMass Fruit and/or Vegetable Extension team on a bi-weekly basis.
2) Soil and plant tissue tests as needed, with interpretation of results and recommendations.
3) Disease diagnostic tests as needed from the UMass Plant Diagnostic Lab.
4) Insect trapping and baiting equipment may be provided as needed.
5) UMass Extension staff will provide hot water treatment of seed when recommended.
Apply to become a Mentor Farm
To apply to be part of this program, please complete the application form below.
Applications arApplications are accepted on a rolling basis. We can’t guarantee a spot in the program for every farm that applies in every year, but all applications will be considered, and farms are selected based on need, location, willingness of farmer to put in the time and effort, and availability of Extension staff. We will hold onto applications for 3 to 5 years in a secure location and will try to get to all qualifying applicants in turn.