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JA slide show
Track 1 - Beginning Farmers


Program - Sponsors - Registration - Lodging - Rideshare

Track Sponsor


Starting a farm can be both a challenging and a rewarding life choice. This track looks at important issues relating to product choices, funding sources and other topics of benefit to those looking to become farmers as well as those who have been farming for less than ten years.  

Friday, January 17

SESSION I - 2:30 – 3:45 pm

Selecting the Right Land & Location for Your Farm

Sue Ellen Johnson, Warrenton, VA

This workshop will help folks contemplating farm purchase or leasing, evaluate the myriad factors that make
the site, land and soil suitable for the different farm enterprises and the markets (direct or wholesale) they
are considering.

SESSION II - 4:00 - 5:15 pm

Developing a Farm Plan

Keith Stewart, Westtown, NY - Keith's Farm

Powerpoint presentation to begin with a 15 - 20 minute overview description of farm, with photographs —
to include years in operation; acres in production (14); soil types; crops grown (more than 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs); cover crops and fertility management; equipment; workforce; markets (Union Square Greenmarket, NY City).

Balance of workshop will focus on developing a farm plan and its component parts—to include discussion of the value of each of the following: farm map; field map or maps; soils map; crop rotation maps; weekly planting schedule; pick lists; harvest and sales records; weekly to-do lists; daily to-do lists; planting records book.

The workshop will also consider planting bed width and space requirements for each crop and ways to assess market demand, and navigate unpredictable weather and other variables. Illustrations throughout.


Saturday, January 18

SESSION III - 8:30 - 9:45 am

Funding Programs that Work for New/Young Farmers

Steve McHenry, Annapolis, MD - MARBIDCO
Joseph Scott, Annapolis, MD - FSA
Zach Evans, Salisbury, MD - MidAtlantic Farm Credit

A discussion of financing opportunities and products that are available for young/beginning/small farmers will help attendees walk away with a thorough understanding of business planning and its importance in obtaining conventional financing. These speakers will provide the audience with the basic requirements for applying for agricultural financing, as well as information on new programs, grants, guarantees, and direct lending available to potential applicants/farmers.

SESSION IV - 10:00 - 11:15 am

Let's Get Started: Raising and Grazing Sheep and Goats

Steffanie Simpson, Kearneysville, WV - White Hall Farm

The discussion will include how Steffanie Simpson started their sheep and goat operation, including the pit-falls, and what influenced the decisions that have brought the operation to where it is today. Important considerations in starting a small ruminant program on your farm will be covered followed by the important role that grazing can play in the success of any operation. There will also be a discussion of how to start a grazing plan, easy ways to maintain it, and the environmental and economic importance of grazing. The information is tailored to these new to small ruminants and those new to grazing plans.

SESSION V - 3:30 - 4:45 pm

"Stories From the Field:" Experienced/Beginner Farmers Panel

Back by popular demand, this session asks two early-stage farmers to present a brief synopsis of their farm plan and progress to date, with emphasis on challenges they now face--which are likely to resonate with other beginning farmers in the audience. A panel of experienced farmers will provide expert advice to address these challenges and offer alternative solutions for consideration.

Farmer presenters: 
Salena and Rick Garber, Rising Sun, MD - Stone Run Farm




Elisa Lane, Baltimore, MD - Whitelock Community Farm