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Partner Organizations

Michael Fields Agricultural InstituteStella Gardens at MFAI - Photo by Jess Clancy, Stella Gardens Intern 2008

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute’s (MFAI) education programs foster the next generation of sustainable farmers, garden innovators and local food champions. MFAI offer Whole Farm Workshops, a series that teaches new and more experienced farmers and gardeners the skills they need to take their agricultural passions and careers to the next level. Topics include: beekeeping, farm scale compost, pastured poultry, cover crops, pest management, processing and marketing, growing fruits, etc. Contact us for information about internship opportunities. Whole Farm Workshops are offered throughout the year to enhance and expand farmers' skill sets of all levels. A number of scholarships are available. Contact by email.

The Liberty Prairie Foundation’s Farm Business Development Center at Prairie Crossing

The Farm Business Development Center (FBDC) at the Prairie Crossing Farm in Grayslake prepares beginning farmers to meet the demand for locally-grown organic food in the Chicago region. The FBDC provides new farmers with a head start by beginning their business in an incubator setting with affordable access to certified organic land near the Chicago-area customer base, and access to experienced mentor farmers. Demand is high for locally-grown organic food, and the Farm Business Development Center is successfully launching new farm businesses to meet consumer demand. Contact:

Farm Beginnings Collaborative

Angelic Organics Learning Center is a member of the Farm Beginnings® Collaborative. The Farm Beginnings Collaborative is a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers and farmer-training support organizations working together to promote Farm Beginnings, a farmer training model that is farmer led, community based and rooted in sustainable principles.

Farm Beginnings is now offered to people in: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, New York and Maine.

Farm Beginnings was started by the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota, in collaboration with a network of experienced farmers. To this day farmers participate at all levels, as steering committee members, classroom presenters, on-farm presenters, and on-farm mentors. Farm Beginnings offers new and beginning farmers a means to establish strong relationships with local farmers, businesses, resources, and consumers within a community network that supports and strengthens the local food and farming system. Farm Beginnings programs support sustainable farming by promoting farming practices that are ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and achievable for new and beginning farmers.

Farm Beginnings is approved as an educational provider through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Completion of the course fulfills the educational requirements for FSA loan applicants. 

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) offers training, resources, and practical advice to help farmers succeed in organic and sustainable farming. The organization is best known for the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference, the country’s largest educational event on organic agriculture, which takes place each February in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Beginning farmer programming includes New Farmer U and the year-long MOSES Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program.  

Organic Answer Line: (715) 778-5775 | Ask a Specialist website

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR SARE)

Funded by the USDA, the national Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program supports and promotes sustainable farming and ranching. NCR SARE offers competitive grants and educational opportunities for producers, scientists, educators, institutions, organizations, and others exploring sustainable agriculture. NCR SARE strengthens rural communities, increases farmer/rancher profitability, and improves the environment by supporting research and education.

Bruce Branham
Illinois State Co-Coordinator
Professor of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois
1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
421 W. Pines Rd, Suite 10 Oregon, IL 61061
Phone: (217) 333-7848 | Email
Doug Gucker
Illinois State Co-Coordinator
3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd.Decatur, IL 62521
Phone: (217) 877-6042 | Email
Diane Mayerfeld
 University of Wisconsin-Madison Ctr. for Integrated Ag. Systems 
 1535 Observatory Dr. Madison, WI 53706 
Phone: (608) 262-8188 Email

Practical Farmers of Iowa

Connecting people looking for hands-on experience in alternative agriculture with farmers looking for people eager to lend a hand. Open to anyone 18 years of age or older, no experience necessary.

Greg Van Den Berghe
Beginning Farmer Manager, Practical Farmers of Iowa
600 5th St. Ames, Iowa 50014
Phone: (515) 232-5661 | Email