BFRDP Projects

Supporting Pennsylvania New Farmers in the Start-up, Re-strategizing and Establishing Years
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $461,000
Grant Program: 2014 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Tara Baugher
Organization: The Pennsylvania State University


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

Leading Pennsylvania's economy with $7.4 billion in sales each year, Pennsylvania's future depends on agriculture. Yet, the farming population is aging, and 16,000 Pennsylvania farmers are projected to retire in the next ten years. This project was designed to increase the number and success of beginning farmers in Pennsylvania. Our focus was on a group previously not specifically served -- new farmers in years 2 to 10 who are establishing their businesses. The program consisted of four main program areas:

  • "Models for the Future" On- farm Demonstrations
  • Study Circle Networks
  • New Commercial Fruit Grower Courses
  • Support for Women in Ag and for Hispanic/Latino Growers

Seven on-farm demonstrations provided living classrooms where new farmers learned cutting-edge best management practices in the context of working farms. Six study circle learning networks provided opportunities for new farmers and educators to learn from each other and from on-farm demonstrations. "New Commercial Fruit Grower Courses" provided new producers with in-depth knowledge on starting a fruit business. Additional study circle networks provided support specific to the needs and learning preferences of women and Hispanic/Latino farmers. Information gathered and demonstrated through model plots and study circles was used to create new farmer-specific educational materials and reach a national community of new farmers.

Case studies and interactive budgets for the model plots are posted at the project website to expand outreach to new farmers on rotation cover crops and other sustainable production practices. Seventy-one Study Circles were held for 702 establishing farmers, and 70% of participants who completed post-program surveys (n=454) said they planned to adopt a new practice. Seventy percent increased knowledge in an area that will increase crop productivity; 25%, environmental sustainability; and 75%, profitability. Surveys of adoption rates were 61% for Women in Ag  (n=254), 90% for Latino growers (n=32), and 100% for new commercial fruit growers (n=30).

Number of Participants: 702


Promotional Materials

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Educational Materials

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Reports & Evaluations

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Delivery Area

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Individual Stories / Examples of Success