BFRDP Projects

Farm Pathways: Access to Land, Livelihood, and Learning
[Progress Report]

Award Amount: $100,000
Grant Program: 2014 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Kristy Urquhart
Organization: Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

The Farm Pathways: Access to Land, Livelihood, and Learning project filled gaps in regional agricultural services for beginning farmers by providing comprehensive training and innovative land access opportunities in Western North Carolina (WNC) and creating a replicable model of collaborative farmer training that can be used across the United States.  The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), the Organic Growers School (OGS), and WNC FarmLink (WNCFL). The three project partners developed capacity to create the farm production, business, and land access curriculum and resources that beginning farmers in the region need to start successful farm enterprises. Specifically, the partners built the foundation for Farm Pathways, in order to support beginning farmers in the following ways:

1.) SAHC developed capacity to build the Farmer Incubator Project into a comprehensive, robust program that includes hands-on production workshops, reduced land rental rates, farming infrastructure, and farm equipment training and leasing for beginning farmers to start their own businesses. Furthermore, SAHC created a strategic plan to expand the Farmland Access Service, which provides beginning farmers with access to affordable farmland in WNC. The strategic plan lays the groundwork for acquiring viable farmland parcels, placing them under conservation easement and deed restriction, and then leasing them to beginning farmers and/or re-selling to farmers at agricultural value (Buy-Protect-Farm/Lease). 

2.) OGS designed, built, and implemented the Beginning Farmer Training Curriculum (BFTC) to provide practical, whole-farm business, financial, and marketing planning to beginning and expanding farmers. This BFTC program is in partnership with Farm Beginnings by using their curriculum.  In addition, OGS expanded Apprentice Link (AL) and Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) programs, which offers experiential, peer-to-peer production & farm management training and mentoring. These programs reinforce one another and are strategically aligned. 

3.) WNCFL expanded programming to increase personalized one-on-one consultation, provided group workshops to help beginning farmers negotiate equitable leases and prepare logistically and financially for long-term land tenure and purchase, which is a major obstacle for beginning farmers.

4.) Complex social problems are often solved through a collaborative approach across organizations. SAHC, OGS and WNCFL are poised to build a solid team for that collective impact. During this one-year development time frame, these three groups worked together to create a cohesive structure, trust-based professional relationship, and a cooperative workflow for implementing the Farm Pathways project.  We developed our joint capacity in further defining our target audience and their needs, coordinated training curriculum and timelines, designed a joint outreach and marketing plan, and outlined a comprehensive evaluation and assessment toolkit to ascertain impact. For all three organizations, the end goal was to meet the needs of beginning farmers in our region so that they may create viable farm businesses.

Number of Participants: 0


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