FarmLink is a project of the Florida West Coast RC&D to connect small farms and beginning farmers to land, expertise, apprentices, mentors, staff, markets, and other resources and services related to starting or expanding their farming operation. Please visit the site at www.FarmLink.org.
Background – The Foundation of a Local Food System
* Local small-farms conference in April 2006 demonstrated the following:
* Training needs requested (88% classroom, 67% on-line classes, 90% publications, and 81% wanted more web-based information)
* 95% of start-up farms indicated that they wanted training from a farmer mentor
* 49% said they would like training by working on a farm
* 38% of small farmers said they would be willing to be a mentor
* 41% indicated they would be willing to have an apprentice
* Aging population and decrease in number of farmers
* The “next generation” may not be the offspring of current farmers but others that are interested in becoming farmers but do not have land or expertise.
Specific needs identified locally in new/beginning or transitioning farmers:
* Assistance in developing a business plan
* Developing a marketing strategy
* Managing a transition to a diversified farming operation
* Information on where and how to obtain land, equipment, supplies, and information
* Additional training in production methods
* At every presentation, workshop, or meeting about local food or sustainable food systems, there is at least one person requesting assistance of this type.
Goals of FarmLink
* Stimulate connections in the entrepreneurial network of landowners, beginner farmers, consultants in farming, and other businesses that support a local food system.
* Use land within suburban and urban areas for growing of food in a manner that stimulates economic activity, reduces the ecological footprint, and improves access to healthy, local food
* Expand existing businesses and help create new small farm businesses that serve local populations
* Provide an ongoing live-time assessment of the needs in the agricultural entrepreneur network
* Demonstrate an initiative that uses a "natural capitalism"-style economic development
For more information about FarmLink and opportunities to get involved, contact our office!