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How to Apply

Deadline Extended to Mon 10/19/20 at 11:59 pm

Our Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) offers a 12-month immersive training experience that combines a comprehensive classroom curriculum with hands-on learning at some of the region's leading sustainable farms. Our 2020 program is underway and we are currently accepting applications for next year.  

  • We offer 3 training levels, designed to meet the specific needs of beginning farmers at different stages in their careers. 
  • All 3 levels of the BFTP are FREE and trainees receive a host of benefits: annual FHCASA membership, free admission to our popular winter conference and year-round field days
  • Join a diverse, inclusive network of new and experienced farmers! We are committed to building a safe, supportive network for all trainees, free from discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, religion, veteran status, military obligations, or marital status. 
  • This is a region-wide program, open to beginning farmers in  MD, VA, DE—including the Delmarva Peninsula—and DC, WV, and PA.  We offer farmer-to-farmer training opportunities throughout the Chesapeake region, and classroom requirements may be completed in-person or online.
  • We offer training in diverse operation types, including: vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs, and livestock at urban, peri-urban, and rural farm settings.
  • The program is also designed with built-in scheduling flexibility to allow new farmers to further their training while maintaining their own farms or other work.  
  • Accessibility: we are committed to making the BFTP accessible to all aspiring farmers. For classroom curriculum, there are both in-person and online options.  For on-farm events, if a given site does not meet a trainee's access needs, we will work together to find an alternate option.  We want to make this work!  Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Questions?  Please email Sarah Sohn, BFTP Director, at: sarah@futureharvestcasa.org
 

Read more & download applications for
Level 1 | Level 2 | Level 3 


  • FHCASA's annual Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed conference: Our winter conference (Jan 14-16, 2021) will bring 800+ people together online for 3 intensive days of sustainable ag learning, with sessions covering a wide-range of topics on production, the business of farming, community-building, and environmental stewardship.
  • 10-week winter workshop series (January-April): Held in partnership with University of Maryland Extension, this series is focused on introducing beginning farmers to key production, marketing, and business planning topics.  These workshops are held once a week on a weekday evening.  We offer multiple in-person series as well as online, recorded classes. to serve trainees across the region. 
  • Cultivate Baltimore: An optional workshop series focused specifically on urban farming. Run in collaboration with University of Maryland Extension and Farm Alliance of Baltimore.
  • 4 half-day, hands-on days at innovative sustainable farms in the region: A series of hands-on intensives designed to give a thorough introduction to core farming topics.  Trainees will engage in hands-on projects such as working on high tunnels, irrigation, basic farm carpentry, field planting, etc.  We offer 8 of these (4 in the Central Chesapeake and 4 on the Delmarva); trainees must attend at least 4.  Read more about these hands-on days HERE
  • 3 field events of your choice, offered throughout the season: As trainees, you also receive free registration to FHCASA's Foodshed Field School events.  Our field events cover a wide range of sustainable farming topics, from selecting the right farm equipment, to managing soil fertility, to making smart business and marketing decisions.  Level 1 trainees are required to attend a minimum of 3 field events, but are welcome to attend more.
  • Join an online community of discussion and support: Trainees participate in a lively online discussion group, where we share resources (land, equipment, farm job openings, etc.), ask questions (What's this weird bug on my potatoes? This mildew on my squash?), and support each other through the natural ups and downs of the farming season.

  


  • FHCASA's annual Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed conference: Our winter conference (Jan 14-16, 2021) will bring 800+ people together for 3 intensive days of sustainable ag learning, with sessions covering a wide-range of topics on production, the business of farming, community-building, and environmental stewardship.
  • 10-week winter workshop series (January-April): Held in partnership with University of Maryland Extension, this series is focused on introducing beginning farmers to key production, marketing, and business planning topics.  These workshops are held once a week on a weekday evening.  We offer multiple in-person series as well as online, recorded classes. to serve trainees across the region. 
  • Cultivate Baltimore: An optional workshop series focused specifically on urban farming. Run in collaboration with University of Maryland Extension and Farm Alliance of Baltimore.
  • On-farm training: Level 2 trainees are required to complete a minimum of 200 training hours with the farmer they've been matched with.  This works out to a minimum of one 8-hour day per week for just over 6 months.  Most participants train April-November, but alternate start/end dates are possible, depending upon the flexibility of your particular training farm.  A current list of our training farms can be found HERE.  If you do not see a farm on the list that's located near you, we encourage you to submit an application nonetheless, as we may be able to locate a new training farm in your area.
  • 3 field events of your choice, offered throughout the season: Level 2 trainees are required to attend a minimum of 3 field events, but are welcome to attend more.
  • Construct a business plan: Trainees will work with the BFTP Director as well as UMD Extension experts to draft and refine a business plan for their operation.
  • Join an online community of discussion and support: Participate in an online discussion group, where we share resources, readings, questions, and successes.
  • Farm Startup Mini-Grants: We offer a limited number of Farm Startup Mini-Grants—these are available only for level 2 trainees.  There is a maximum award of $1,000 per trainee.  The grants are given out at the end of the season, upon an awardee's completion of the full program requirements.  The mini-grants are intended to help trainees with the startup costs of their new farm endeavors.  Priority for these mini-grants will be made for low-income and socially disadvantaged trainees. In order to be considered for a mini-grant, you MUST submit the grant application along with your Level 2 BFTP application.  Links to both are below.  Mini-grant determinations are made separately from general admissions decisions to the program.


 


  • FHCASA's annual Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed conference: Our winter conference (Jan 14-16, 2021) will bring 800+ people together for 3 intensive days of sustainable ag learning, with sessions covering a wide-range of topics on production, the business of farming, community-building, and environmental stewardship.
  • 1-on-1 guidance with an experienced Farmer Consultant: We will pair you with a seasoned Farmer Consultant, someone with many years of experience running a farm in this region.  This year-long consultancy is intended to help level 3 trainees navigate issues common to intermediate-level farmers, such as: improving farm systems and finding ways to become more efficient, making critical marketing decisions as your business grows, et.  Consultants will both visit your farm in-person and provide support via phone and email.  More information on Level 3 Farmer Consultants can be found HERE.
  • 10-week winter workshop series (optional): Held in partnership with University of Maryland Extension, this series is focused on introducing beginning farmers to key production, marketing, and business planning topics.  These workshops are held once a week on a weekday evening.  We offer multiple in-person series as well as online, recorded classes. to serve trainees across the region. 
  • Advanced 4-part workshop series (optional): UMD Extension has developed a new 4-part workshop series called "Wheels Up", which is designed for beginning farmers with at least 3 years of experience.  Advanced business and marketing topics and individualized farm planning exercises are the focus. This series is free to Level 3 trainees and attendance is encouraged, but not required.  
  • Field events of your choice (optional): Level 3 trainees are encouraged, but not required, to attend field events throughout the year.
  • Join an online community of discussion and support: Participate in an online discussion group, a place to share resources, readings, questions, and successes.


The deadline for submitting a BFTP application is MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2020. There are very limited spots for the coming year (due to 2020 trainees returning to complete programming interrupted by Covid), so please include as much information as possible in your application.