BFRDP Projects

New Organic Stewards: Expanding Community, Resources and Financial Knowledge
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $310,419
Grant Program: 2015 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: John Mesko
Organization: Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

In the New Organic Stewards: Expanding Community, Resources and Financial Knowledge project the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), Renewing the Countryside (RTC) and local collaborators brought 1,130 new and beginning sustainable farmers in Wis., Minn., Iowa and Ill. together for learning opportunities. New and beginning farmers in communities throughout the Midwest met, networked, learned from each other, viewed successful organic operations, gained access to additional programs and resources, and learned basic sustainable farming and financial management practices.

The emphasis of our offerings was creating a safe, comfortable, accessible, engaging environment of exploration to those just beginning their path to farming. Although according to the 2012 Ag Census the number of people entering farming continues to drop, we continue to see new entry into small, diversified farming systems by people with no farming background, or a gap in their farm history. With support, we feel that there is opportunity for these people to succeed in creating sustainable farming systems.

We held four regional 2-day New Farmer U events, and numerous conference workshops and activities for new and beginning sustainable farmers. The book, Fearless Farm Finances, was updated and expanded and used as a training reference. One-day financial workshops, supported by the book, optional add-ons at the New Farmer U events, provided in-depth financial basics to strengthen the financial literacy and sustainability of beginning farmer attendees. A 15-lesson online course was developed, based on the book and using video and presentations from the one-day trainings, and offered as both a free access and fee-based teacher supported course.

As a result of the project attendees chose to participate in additional educational programs, implemented new production methods, initiated financial recordkeeping and analysis to make their farms more profitable and sustainable and felt a greater sense of community and support on their path to farming. 678 of those involved made progress in their dreams of beginning to farm or further improved their existing farm operations.

Number of Participants: 1641


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