The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension New Farmer Project helps new farmers gain access to the resources necessary to start a farm. The Project offers courses and DIY-style online education, with instruction on topics such as the grants available to farmers and their application processes, as well as the different avenues available for financing a farm. Some other helpful resources include grant and loans listings, a farming-specific classified section, and the Vermont Agriculture Land Access Database (LAD).
The official New Farmer Project website is “a virtual toolshed to assist in your farm development.” Betsy Mattox, a farmer of four years currently profiled on the website expressed her appreciation for her experiences in the Project’s free course, “Whole Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmers.” Most of all, however, the opportunity to connect with other farmers with varying levels of experience was priceless. As Mattox stresses, “there is no substitute for mentoring with someone who is a master in their field.”
In fact, one of the main pushes for the creation of the project stems from the fact that farming is no longer a business handed down throughout generations of family apprenticeships. The New Farmer Project not only works to educate new farmers with a wide range of comprehensive materials, but also hopes to replicate the mentorship traditionally associated with farming.
The site also works as a networking platform; new farmers sign up to receive regular email updates connecting them with farming-related activities and opportunities, where they may meet and learn from more established farmers.