Our Mission Statement:
The mission of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (New Entry) is to assist people with limited resources who have an interest in small-scale commercial agriculture, to begin farming in Massachusetts. The broader goals of New Entry are to support the vitality and sustainability of the region's agriculture, to build long term economic self-reliance and food security among participants and their communities, and to expand access to high-quality, culturally appropriate foods in underserved areas through production of locally-grown foods.
The Challenge…We are in the midst of an exciting period of opportunity for local agriculture due to a resurgence of consumer and institutional interest in locally-produced foods. The local food movement creates demand that is already outstripping supply in many areas. For example, farmers' markets beg for more producers and waiting lists grow for CSA membership. By far the weakest link in the revival of regional agriculture is the beginning farmer. New farmers are critical to sustain our agricultural base and to replace an aging farmer population. However, people interested in starting agricultural careers are increasingly challenged, as barriers to entry are significant and traditional venues for education are declining.
Our Solution…We provide constructive environments and strategies that support new producers and create opportunities for them to strengthen agricultural capacities, share learning experiences, and build better communities. We provide access to information, resources, training and technical assistance so that producers can grow healthy, local, fresher food for consumers.
The Agriculture, Food, and Environment (AFE) Program of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University initiated New Entry, and the project continues to be an integral part of the school's academic program. New Entry provides opportunities for student involvement via internships, directed study, and research, while AFE faculty foster curriculum connections in class discussions, coursework, and hands-on laboratories in the fields.
New Entry staff are employees of Tufts University and Community Teamwork, Inc., but the project extends well beyond these institutions. Project partners include federal and state government agencies, universities, local farmers, and multiple community-based organizations.
New Entry provides services for beginning farmers such as locating farmland, education, training, business/enterprise development, and production and marketing assistance. The project provides opportunities for economically disadvantaged farmers, preserves farmland, and promotes New England agriculture. The New Entry Programs section and the New Entry Organizational Structure provide more detail on specific initiatives.
New Entry began in 1998. New Entry is one of the first initiatives nationwide to assist immigrants and refugees to develop commercial farming opportunities. Our work focuses primarily in the Lowell and Worcester sections of Massachusetts because of their population makeup, a strong interest in agriculture among immigrant and refugee residents, and the support of community organizations.
New Entry has worked with farmers from a number of countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Lebanon, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Poland, Haiti, Kenya, Burundi, and Vietnam. New Entry has also worked with farmers from Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. Over 60 farmers, primarily Hmong, Khmer, African, and Latino, have graduated from the New Entry Farm Business Training Course since 2005. Currently the technical assistance is provided to farmers on sites in Dracut and surrounding Massachusetts communities. One New Entry graduate has even developed his own commercial farm enterprise in Pennsylvania!
New Entry has received local, national, and international media coverage for its work with immigrant farmers. New Entry also creates its own periodic newsletter. See our newsletter archives for all prior newsletters.
A Special Note Regarding John Ogonowski
John Ogonowski was the pilot on American Airlines flight 11 to Los Angeles that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. John is most remembered for his contributions to the farming community in Massachusetts, and particularly for his dedication to immigrant farmers from Cambodia whom he assisted as part of the New Entry. John served as New Entry's first mentor farmer and dedicated acreage of his property to help Cambodians begin farming. He gave production advice, helped put up a shed and greenhouse, and often did not collect the rents. He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and their three daughters. Peggy and John's brother, Jim Ogonowski, are still actively involved in the project and assist to keep the farmers on their land to preserve John's memory.