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Who will benefit the most from taking Stateline Farm Beginnings?

We find the most successful applicants are those who rely on the least amount of “guess work” when striving to define/plan their farm business. These are people who have worked on farms (and understand the various aspects of production), who have access to land (thus location, acreage, and maybe even soil fertility are known), who have owned a different small business (which requires management/record keeping skills), who have a fairly certain source of capital or savings (i.e. start up funds), or who are poised to start farming in the relatively near future (there will be urgency and motivation in their planning). If you have one or two of these strengths, you should consider applying.

I don’t have access to land, should I still apply?

Yes. Typically, about 50% of the participants have access to land. Having land can help make your planning somewhat easier and more specific. It is not required by the program, however, nor is it necessary for planning a farm business. Often times beginning farmers assume that buying land is the first step to starting a farm business. This is false. New farm businesses often benefit by creating other land arrangements, like leasing land or renting a subset of a larger farm's acreage, learning how to establish and grow the farm business, then moving onto purchased land after years of capital accumulation or when the farmer's exact needs for a farm site have been refined.

  • Will I learn how to farm in this program?
    • During the 10 winter course sessions you will learn how to plan a farm business. We do not cover much production topics in the winter course sessions. As a Stateline Farm Beginnings participant, you will also be an Upper Midwest CRAFT member, and therefore you’ll have access to 10–12 on-farm Field Days that address production-oriented topics (usually scheduled from March – October). Some of these Field Days have a hands-on components. Mentorships differ, depending on agreements made between mentee and mentor.
  • What if I need to miss some of the winter course sessions?
    • 100% attendance in the course is highly recommended. Most sessions are six hours in length and cover a lot of material, and often feature multiple farmer-speakers. If participants must miss two or more sessions, it is advised that they not apply until full attendance is anticipated. My schedule is pretty full, with a lot of commitments.
  • How can I take advantage of the advising portion of the program?
    • Mentoring can be structured around your work schedule or other commitments. They range from full-time work on a mentor's farm to one or two “meetings” with the mentor to address the participant's learning goals.
  • Will Stateline Farm Beginnings match me with a paid farm job as part of the program?
    • No. The Stateline Farm Beginnings facilitator helps each participant determine their learning goals for the growing season. If these goals include paid farm work, the participant is responsible for utilizing Upper Midwest CRAFT resources to find their own job (work-wanted and help-wanted postings in the Upper Midwest CRAFT eNewsletter, the Upper Midwest CRAFT Handbook that lists member farms' contact information, and word-of-mouth networking).
  • Will the Stateline Farm Beginnings facilitator help me to find a mentor?
    • Yes. The Stateline Farm Beginnings facilitator meets with each participant and assists in matching them with an appropriate mentor. Following through with the advising will then be in the hands of the participant.
  • How many Upper Midwest CRAFT Field Days am I required to attend as part of the program?
    • It is recommended that participants attend as many Field Days as possible. However, there is not set minimum for program participants.
  • Do I receive a certificate of completion upon finishing the program? 
    • Yes. In September, the last session/graduation is scheduled, during which participants receive their certificate of completion.
  • Can two people take the course and pay only one tuition? 
    • Yes, as long as they are working on ONE farm plan. We call this couple a “farm family” but it may consist of 2 business partners, 2 family members, or 2 personal/life partners. Stateline Farm Beginnings only provides one set of text books for each “farm family” but provides a course binder for each individual in the class.
  • Can I set up a payment plan for paying the tuition?
    • We prefer full payment on the first day of class. If this is too difficult, participants may divide their balance due into three equal payments, payable in October (at Session 1), November (at Session 3) and December (at Session 5), respectively. Payment in full must be made before the end of December in the same calendar year in which one begins the program. What is your refund policy? The Stateline Farm Beginnings deposit is non-refundable. No tuition refunds are available after the first session during the year in which you are originally enrolled. If you have to withdraw for any reason during the course, tuition refunds cannot be made. After the first session, if you are unable to attend for any reason, you may reserve your spot in the next Stateline Farm Beginnings course. Tuition credit must be requested by November 1st of the year in which you are were originally enrolled. If you are unable to attend the follow year course, we will send you documentation so your tuition fee can be recorded as a tax deductible contribution to the ongoing work of Angelic Organics Learning Center.