This program is intended for beginning to established farmers living in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, or Chicagoland. Farm Viability Circles each define their Circle member eligibility.
- To assist farmers in achieving greater profitability and a higher quality of life through routine social engagement with their farm financials and management decisions.
- To enable farmers to share questions and concerns with a supportive group of peers
- To enable farms to lead and mentor others in the farming community
- To deepen regional farmers’ collective knowledge of factors that lead to successful non-commodity farms that are similar to the farm they operate.
- Each circle receives financial and educational support from the Learning Center to access farm viability advisors of their choosing.
- Circle members have first access to exclusive educational and farm finance opportunities from the Learning Center, as available.
- Circle coordinators receive a yearly stipend for their support role within the circle.
This all sounds great! Now, how do I sign-up?
At this time we are collecting contact information from individuals interested in starting or joining a circle. We will be contacting those who sign up for our interest list in early February of 2021.
Starting a Circle
A circle needs three founding members, one of which will be a volunteer to be the Circle Coordinator. The Coordinator works with Learning Center staff to set up the first Circle meeting. During this meeting, the founding members of the circle will work with Learning Center staff will define the circle’s initial membership requirements including, organizing principles (membership requirements could be based on location, enterprise, distribution structure, minimum or maximum gross income, etc.).
A Circle Coordinator commit to handing the logistics and management 6 circle meetings (virtual, phone, or in-person). Circle members commit to meeting 6 times yearly with their circles centering all meetings on farm viability topics. All circles create a charter, yearly learning plans, and turn in meeting evaluations.
All Farm Viability Circle Members must agree to:
- Create and/or follow the guidelines of a Farm Viability Circle charter using the form provided by the Learning Center
- Attend circle meetings
- Keep up with individual financial recordkeeping, including Farm Viability Circle documents
- Share farm financial information and discuss business successes and challenges with your Farm Viability Circle cohort during meetings
- Respect the privacy of Circle members and the confidentiality of their financial information
- Be open to the thoughts, and wisdom generated by Circle discussions