INTRODUCTION 2. Establish a web-based resource center for developing and implementing... and disseminating

Alabama A&M University (AAMU) in
partnership with Alabama Cooperative
Extension System, Rosita’s Farm, Tune
Farm, Alabama Agricultural Marketing A+
Association, and the Federation of Southern
Cooperatives to recruit, grow and directly
assist at least 225 new and 600 beginning
farmers and ranchers (BFRs) in Alabama. At
least 2,000 additional producers are expected
to be reached through general outreach
training, newsletters and online web portal.
The growing numbers of young, limited
resource, retired, and immigrant farmers who
aspire to own and/or operate farmland and
participate in government programs generally
lack access to capital, land, markets, and are
often uninformed about various aspects of
agricultural, legal, and procedural mechanisms
of acquiring land, accessing government
services, and they lack the technical know-how
of how to use the land profitably. Many are
dissatisfied with the current revenue streams
from their farmlands, as most of their lands are
either not effectively utilized or their products
are not market-competitive. This project’s
long-term goal is to grow the next generation of
farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs who will
use the experience, skills and land stewardship
to improve and enhance sustainability and
productive capacity of farms and ranches.
1. Recruit BFR’s and provide them
agricultural training and certification via
five Farm Incubators strategically located
across Alabama.
2. Establish a web-based resource center for developing and implementing effective training programs
and disseminating AAMA+A
educational materials.
3. Strengthen farm
farmer-to-farmer mentoring, field
business training, web-based instruction,
AAMU Farm &
Agribition Center
i n c u b a t o r training and education through
days, on-farm demonstrations, entrepreneurship and
and certification programs.
4. Provide targeted technical assistance and
outreach training to expand production and access
niche markets for specialty crops and small ruminant.
This is a state-wide project targeting African-Americans and other underserved populations in chronically
and economically depressed communities of Alabama. These populations include Native American;
Hispanic Americans; and urban and peri-urban producers; small ruminants (sheep, goat and rabbit)
producers; sustainable and organic producers; and other immigrants producers and transitioning farmers
and workers.
FSC Rural
Training Center
The project is adopting target-oriented participatory approach to training and best addressing the
needs of new and BFRs, and to identifying viable strategies for effective service and outreach
delivery. The incubator approach to growing farmers and ranchers has great potential of expanding
educational opportunities and markets for local farmers while raising awareness for the protection
of agricultural lands. By definition, a farm incubator aims to assist new and aspiring farmers and
ranchers establish their own successful farming businesses by offering specific resources and services
that are difficult to access for start-up producers on their own. The goal is to minimize entry barriers
for aspiring farmers and ranchers. Over three years, this project will train and grow new generation
of agricultural producers through five strategically located Farm Incubator Satellites as depicted on
the map. The approach to training comprises group meetings, workshops, farmer-to-farmer mentoring
sessions, internships, field days, and one-on-one mentoring session.
This project benefits from a more strategic, multidisciplinary, and whole-farm approach,
collaborating with an extensive network of community based organizations, USDA agencies, educational
and extension partners. The first year has seen a successful recruitment campaign of project participants.
Outreach activities, including news articles, radio announcements, television media, town-hall meetings,
and seminars, have been conducted. A needs assessment instrument has been developed and administered
to identify priority training needs, and to assist with the development of a consistent curriculum. Over
105 participants have enrolled in various project courses. Several training workshops have so far been
completed. Two farm field days have been
conducted. “First Thursday” monthly group
meetings are ongoing, and are supplemented
by one-on-one farm/home visits and
farmer-to-farmer mentoring session to
strengthen understanding. Construction of the
online resource center is underway. When fully
operational, the center will provide producer
access to key resources and allow them to
undergo training in the privacy of their own
homes. Our website (
smallfarmscenter/) includes links to various
educational materials. The Center’s Facebook
page shows traffic has increased by over 28%
compared to previous years. Tune Farm and
Rosita’s Farm are focusing their training on
organic production and marketing. They have
jointly enrolled 46 incubator participants
and 90 additional farmers, providing them
ongoing education and hands-on training in
areas of financial planning, marketing, and
business planning. Tune Farm is also working
with 15 interns; while Tri-State has enrolled
62 producers interested in meat goats, sheep,
rabbits and pastured poultry. The project is
working with the City of Huntsville for tracks
of land for the first graduates. Lastly, AAMU
staff has devoted over 120 hours to providing
one-on-one training, education and assistance
to producers in areas of business planning,
recordkeeping, farm financial management,
direct marketing, value-added enterprises,
government programs and general technical
assistance throughout Alabama.
Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program
USDA-NIFA-BFRDP Grant No. 2012-49400-19567