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How Do We Grow New Farmers? Burlington’s Intervale Center Hosts National Farm Incubator Field School

October 2, 2012 |

News Release – BURLINGTON, VT – On Friday, October 5, farm managers, garden managers, extension agents and agricultural program directors from across North America will arrive at the Intervale Center to learn how to grow new farmers in their communities. The Intervale Center is hosting a day-long farm incubation workshop, part of a new National Incubator Farm Training Initiative (NIFTI) in partnership with Boston-based nonprofit, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.

“It’s hard to believe, but the average age of an American farmer is 57. We need new farmers. But how are they going to get training, access to equipment, and business development support? Across the country, many people are looking to farm business incubators as part of the answer,” says Intervale Center Executive Director, Travis Marcotte. “We’re very excited to host this Field School and share our 25 years of knowledge growing new farmers with organizations from California to Alberta, Canada, and Maine.”

Farm incubators remove start-up barriers that typically challenge new farmers by providing access to training, land, equipment, capital and markets. They also provide communities with large refugee populations resources to help these “new Americans” develop market gardens and small farm businesses that provide satisfying work and generate additional income for the family.

Most Field School participants are already enthusiastic about starting and managing their own local incubator programs. Friday’s workshop will provide a forum to cover a broad range of topics, including technical farming basics like growing, harvesting, and marketing crops along with resources for farmland access and farm support services. Participants will also learn how to successfully plan for growth and development, and how to raise money to make sure that an incubator program is financially sustainable.

The Intervale Center will share knowledge gained through administering its nationally-renowned Farms Program. Founded in 1990, the incubator program was one of the first in the US to lease land, equipment, greenhouses, irrigation and storage facilities to small independent farms. Each year, these farms grow fresh produce on 135 acres of land and contribute 60 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs to the Burlington economy.

About the Intervale Center

The Intervale Center is a Burlington, Vermont-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strengthens community food systems. Our goals are to enhance the viability of farming; to promote the sustainable use and stewardship of agricultural lands; and to ensure community engagement in the food system. By stewarding 350 acres of the Intervale, implementing programs and enterprises and sharing our place and work with people from around the world, we are building a stronger community food system where farm businesses flourish, land and water resources are clean and communities are vibrant and healthy. Learn more at www.intervale.org.

About New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

The mission of New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (New Entry) is to assist people with limited resources who have an interest in small-scale commercial agriculture, to begin farming in Massachusetts. The broader goals of New Entry are to support the vitality and sustainability of the region’s agriculture, to build long term economic self-reliance and food security among participants and their communities, and to expand access to high-quality, culturally appropriate foods in underserved areas through production of locally-grown foods. Learn more at www.nesfp.org.

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