BFRDP Projects

Advancing the Business of Farming in Connecticut in Partnership with Agriculture Learning Centers
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $597,598
Grant Program: 2016 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Jiff Martin
Organization: University of Connecticut


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

Our project was developed by and for small scale beginning farmers across Connecticut. Instead of duplicating the efforts of great organizations that are already offering beginner farmer training programs, this project enriched these programs by delivering core trainings, providing one-on-one technical assistance to participants, and implementing unique statewide events to foster networking and learning across the beginner farmer community. The core trainings offered were designed primarily for existing and aspiring sustainable vegetable producers.  All of trainings and resources have been branded as UConn Extension's 'Solid Ground Farmer Trainings'.

Core trainings included the following topics: business planning, soil health, farmland access, small scale production of vegetables and fruit, irrigation, post-harvest handling, tunnel production systems, cover crop systems, profitable meat enterprises, managing invasive species, pesticide safety, welding, business planning, eco-focused farming techniques, tractor and small engine safety & maintenance. Trainings were delivered in person in small group settings of 5 to 30 attendees. Training locations were in Bridgeport, Hartford, Killingly, New Haven, Simsbury, Stamford, and Windham. One-on-one technical assistance was available to producers who requested assistance in: 1) vegetable disease and pest management, 2) farmland evaluation and soil health, 3) farm financial record-keeping. and 4) engineering for post-harvest handling.  In year 1 there were 26 core trainings. In year 2 there were 34 core trainings. In year 3 there were 31 trainings. By the third year our project reached at least 275 unique attendees and drew a combined attendance of 800+ new and beginning farmers. 

Our project also used grant funds and leveraged key partnership to implement 3 statewide events: 1) The Build Your Network, Grow Our Future - brought together new farmers and service providers for a day of networking and training; 2) The Agriculture Re$ource Fair featured grant opportunities that are available to new farmers, co-presented by a producer that had received the grant and a grants program representative; 3) Farm Equipment Day was an opportunity to see vegetable equipment demonstrations.

Solid Ground Core Trainings were delivered at: Common Ground High School in New Haven, the Community Farm of Simsbury, the Green Village Initiative in Bridgeport, Killingly Agriculture Education Program, KNOX in Hartford, WRCC-GROW Windham, and UConn's Ready-to-Start urban agriculture program.  Other critical partners in the project are the New CT Farmer Alliance and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of CT.

Number of Participants: 275


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