apply online, visit
Central Illinois Farm
Beginnings will begin in October with nine biweekly seminars
taught by farmers and business professionals. Seminar topics
include planning for profit, multiple marketing strategies and
building a business plan. The course tuition allows up to two
members of the same farm enterprise to attend. Some scholarships
The program, originally developed by the Land Stewardship
Project in Minnesota, starts with farmer-led seminars that run
through the fall and winter with topics that range from
marketing to financial planning. In the spring and summer,
participants go through a mentorship program with an experienced
farmer in their area of interest. They also participate in
hands-on field days at local farms, where they learn skills that
run from fruit-tree pruning to goat-hoof trimming.
Central Illinois Farm Beginnings graduates Andy and Jennifer
Miller used the course to jump-start their meat goat business.
"The class helped us look at our operation carefully," said Jen
Miller. "We know what quality of life we want. We want to raise
meat goats with a minimum of time and inputs but still be
financially sustainable. We want to utilize the pastures, so we
can feed them less grain and allow the manure to fertilize the
Jen said that the course materials and the guest speakers
were helpful, but it was the connections with other members of
the Farm Beginnings class that was most valuable. "I know that I
now have at least six people I can call on when I need help. I
already e-mail the other meat goat farmers in the group once or
twice a month with questions."
"There is nothing like talking to the very people who have
walked the path of sustainable farming," said Bill Wilson, who
participated in the first Central Illinois Farm Beginnings
class. "I learned so much hearing the success stories, and even
the failures, from the wide variety of farmers that presented,
one class after another. Farm Beginnings will likely save me
thousands of dollars in mistakes."
The Central Illinois Farm Beginnings course was developed by
a local steering committee consisting of experienced farmers and
farm financial advisers. It is facilitated by Terra Brockman of
The Land Connection, Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant of U of I Extension
and Leslie Cooperband, also of the University of Illinois and
co-owner of Prairie Fruits Farm.
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"We need to make it possible for young people -- men, women and
families -- to be involved in farming," said Cooperband. "Itís
imperative for the well-being of our rural communities, and of our
state and nation, to encourage and support farming methods that are
good for the environment, as well as being economically viable."
"Farm Beginnings is more than a series of training sessions," said
Central Illinois Farm Beginnings co-facilitator Deborah
Cavanaugh-Grant. "The foundation of the program is a mentorship
component that links established farmers with course participants.
Participants interact with the established farmers through field
days as well as one-on-one farm visits and informal meetings."
"Many people are pessimistic about the future for family farms,"
said Terra Brockman, who also facilitates the course. "But this
program is proving that an environmentally and economically sound
future for family farms and rural communities is possible."
Apply online at
information packet and application through the mail. For more
information, contact Kathy McGroarty-Torres at 847-570-0701 or
email@example.com, or Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at
217-968-5512 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the central Illinois program, based in the Decatur
area, Stateline Farm Beginnings serves the northern Illinois and
southern Wisconsin area. The Stateline program is run by Parker
Forsell, director of the Farmer Training Department and coordinator
of the CRAFT program at the Angelic Organics Learning Center, an
educational nonprofit organization in Caledonia.
For the Stateline Farm Beginnings program, contact Annette Meach
at 815-494-5547 or
email@example.com, or Parker Forsell of the Angelic
Organics Learning Center at
CRAFT@CSALearningCenter.org or 815-389-8455.
[Text from file received from
the University of Illinois
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences]