The regional agriculture promotion nonprofit, CISA, has received a three-year federal $595,500 grant to provide business assistance to beginning farmers throughout the state.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture Executivev Director Philip Korman said today, "It has been well-documented that the average age of farmers continues to increase, both nationally and locally. To ensure that local agriculture remains viable and thriving, the next generation of farmers must have the skills and resources to be successful. These grant resources will enable us to improve the sustainability and profitability of beginning farm businesses in Massachusetts."
CISA will reach 600 beginning farmers through an established network of five collaborating agricultural organizations: Berkshire Grown, Central Mass. Grown, Northeast Harvest, Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP), and Sustainable Nantucket. In addition, the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, The Carrot Project, and Land for Good will provide services to participating farmers. These partner organizations have successful track records in market development, business assistance, increasing land access, and agricultural promotion working with farmers across the commonwealth, according to CISA, whic his basedin South Deerfield.
The three-year workplan includes 78 workshops covering entrepreneurship, financial planning, risk management, diversification, and marketing strategies. The plan also includes 15 networking events to allow beginning farmers to learn from each other, and one-on-one technical assistance to 300 beginning farmers. Participating farmers will have access to ongoing technical assistance and peer support through the collaborating organizations.
CISA and its partners have a long history of providing business assistance to farmers. "As part of the next generation in a family farm, it was really valuable to me to attend CISA's workshop series on business decision-making and financial planning," says Kyle Kielbasa of Kielbasa Orchards in Hadley. "It's made our farm management transition much easier."
Access to land is a particular challenge for beginning farmers and will be an area of focus for this project.