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Farmland Access Bootcamp Offered at MOSES' Organic University
Minnesota Ag Connection - 02/09/2018

Part of a multi-year project led by Minnesota-based Renewing the Countryside, the Land Access Bootcamp will provide beginning farmers with a comprehensive overview of land access strategies, tools and resources and help them plan their next steps towards land tenure. The day-long session is designed for farmers with 10 or less years of experience, who are ready to begin or are actively searching for land.

The Bootcamp will be conducted in partnership with Land for Good (LFG), a pioneering non-profit with over a fifteen years of experience addressing farmland access barriers in New England and nationally. LFG has become renowned for its trainings, resources, and the work of its six regional Field Agents who provide one-on-one expertise and coaching to farmers in their search for land. Presenting will be Kathy Ruhf, senior program director and a nationally recognized leader in farm entry, succession and tenure; Tess Brown-Lavoie, LFG’s Rhode Island field agent, and Brett Olson, co-founder of Renewing the Countryside and Farmland Access Navigator. Topics will include how to assess the utility of a property, land tenure options (leasing, buying, cooperative structures), and financing for land acquisition.

The Bootcamp is a response to the unprecedented challenges that beginning farmers face when looking for land, chiefly rising prices and inadequate financing. “There is a lack of services for entering famers in acquiring land,” explains Ruhf, who began Land for Good’s work on farmland access in 2004. She teaches that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to land access, “One challenge is the culture and myths around land ownership, for example, “you’re not a real farmer if you don’t own your land.” The reality is that half of farmers rent at least some of their land, and studies show that beginning farmers without land debt are more likely to succeed in the long run.”

Renewing the Countryside’s Land Access Project is funded, in part, by a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant. In addition to February’s Land Access Bootcamp, other regional workshops and bootcamps are planned in 2018 and 2019. The project also deputizes four regional Land Access Navigators who will provide individual coaching to beginning farmers. For more information about the project, upcoming training dates or to contact a Land Access Navigator, visit gotfarmland.org or contact Eli Goodwell (eli@rtcinfo.org). More information about the Organic University or the MOSES Organic Farming Conference is available at mosesorganic.org.

For general information about this project, contact Jan Joannides, Renewing the Countryside, 612-251-7304, or jan@rtcinfo.org.

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