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Published August 19, 2013, 09:56 AM

No easy way to start farming from scratch

The Land Stewardship Program in Minnesota trains a new generation of farmers.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Parker Forsell knows how difficult it is to start farming without help from an existing producer.

“The two big barriers we see for people getting into agriculture are access to land and access to capital,” both of which existing farmers can help provide, says Forsell, organizer of the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings program.

The Land Stewardship Project, which has offices in three Minnesota cities, seeks among other things, to train a new generation of farmers.

Forsell doesn’t have easy answers for people who want to enter farming from scratch. But he offers two suggestions on how to begin.

“Start small and build from there,” he says. “If you can figure out how to do it on a small scale, then you can try to ramp it up from there.”

He also stresses that beginning farmers should network with experienced ones.

Forsell knows of cases where young farmers get started by working with established vegetable farmers. The established farmers, in such cases, typically need labor and will help aspiring farmers who provide it.

Such arrangements generally don’t work as well in grain farming and livestock, Forsell says.

The arrangement between Leonard Will and Hvidsten Farms in Stephen, Minn., which was described to him by Agweek, is “kind of unique,” he says.

More information on the Farm Beginnings program: www.landstewardshipproject.org/morefarmers/farmbeginnings.

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