BFRDP Projects

Advancing Next Generation Urban Farmers: Experiential Education, Mentoring, and Employment
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $708,700
Grant Program: 2015 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Gavin Raders
Organization: Planting Justice


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

This Standard BFRDP project presents an innovative model to advance economic viability, land stewardship, and social equity for beginning and socially disadvantaged beginning farmers. This proposal directly addresses urgent trends conveyed in the 2012 USDA Census: the aging farmer population and declining numbers of beginning farmers. 

This project counters these trends by building comprehensive and culturally relevant training/employment opportunities for beginning and underserved farmers, while strengthening the mentoring capacity of experienced farmers to pass on their knowledge. Our target audience includes 120 beginning farmers, including 90 formerly incarcerated, immigrants, and otherwise socially disadvantaged participants, in 6 cohorts over the 3-year grant period. Successful program graduates are completing 150 hours of on-site, hands-on training as part of our Applied Agroecology and Beginning Farmer Curriculum, and receive the opportunity to be mentored by pioneering local farmers through paid 3-6 month apprenticeships on local farms in the MESA network, living-wage employment as urban farmers with Planting Justice, and/or substantial financial, legal, technical, and administrative support to access land and launch their own farming startups. These comprehensive services are spurring the next generation to launch and sustain successful careers in urban and peri-urban farming. Planting Justice is a national leader in re-entry green job placement and urban farming training for formerly incarcerated people, and this project will build upon their success helping former inmates obtain inspirational employment as new urban farmers. MESA is internationally recognized as a pioneering sustainable agriculture training organization with 18 years running experiential and farmer mentorship programs. 

Number of Participants: 213


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