New Beginning Farmers Guide Has In-Depth Training Resources

Informational resource manual for beginning and aspiring farmers available from Iowa State
AMES, Iowa – “A Resource Guide for Beginning Farmers” (LF 0006) compiles dozens of existing training resources on everything from soil and composting to small farm equipment and whole farm planning, including information on food safety and seed saving. The guide is available from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Online Store or the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture website.

The beginning farmer guide was prepared by Alice Topaloff, a Leopold Center program assistant, with support from the ISU Extension and Outreach Local Foods Team.

“The goal of highlighting and organizing these existing resources was to provide a starting point for beginning farmer training across Iowa,” Toplaoff said. “Organizations and nonprofit groups interested in hosting an incubator farm training program for ‘want-to-be’ farmers will find this publication useful to assist farmers in starting a small business selling food products in Iowa.”

The 48-page guide is divided into three parts: production practices, post-harvest handling, and business planning and basic farm finances. Each of the three segments contains modules covering different agriculture topics and is organized by learning objectives and includes a narrative, hands-on activities and links to worksheets and additional resources.

“Young farming professionals find it hard to take that first step without guidance,” said David Baker, farm transition specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “However, this powerful tool has descriptions of in-depth training efforts for helping families make decisions and begin their farm operation plans.”

The publication also includes appendices listing useful organizations and programs that support beginning farmers and helpful contacts.

“In the future, the Local Foods team would love to see interest in gathering a statewide group of stakeholders that would design and implement an accredited farmer apprenticeship program,” Topaloff said.

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