FIELD Network - Monthly Networking Session - From Incubator to Direct Farm Service


Friday, June 21, 2024


1:00pm – 2:00pm


Zoom  Online - Eastern Standard Time



Join the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and the FIELD Network for our Monthly Networking Session.  Connect with staff of land-based farm incubator and apprenticeship training programs!  Share challenges faced by land-based training programs supporting a diversity of beginning farmers and brainstorm ideas, solutions, and shared resources.  Network in breakout groups to mix and mingle with other incubator farm program staff and apprenticeship staff across the country to connect and share project updates!

This month's networking topic is:  From Farm Incubator to Direct Farm Service – How do we best support farmers with business technical assistance?  Running a farm incubator program can be challenging; balancing multiple producers’ production systems, sharing equipment, maintaining “the commons,” and building community can keep incubator programs busy enough.  How do we also then provide quality business technical assistance?  How do we find time to support farmers with on-the-ground production logistics and setting personal, financial, and business goals and a clear strategy to reach them?  How do we support farmers with a solid land access plan and transition strategy?  How can we best balance all the various growth stages and needs of the many different farmers we  support?  Come learn about the various approaches taken over the years from the Intervale Center and ask questions about their programmatic decisions and future programming opportunities.

Launched in 1990, the Intervale Center’s Farm Incubator was one of the oldest such programs in the United States. The program aimed to address common challenges that beginning farmers face, including access to land, equipment, capital, and mentorship. In addition to leasing Intervale land, equipment, and storage facilities to small independent farmers, the Intervale Center offered formal farm business expertise and a supportive community of new farmers. In 2018, the Intervale Center ended its formal incubator program to focus on farm viability work and provide business planning and land access support to new and seasoned farmers across the state. Let’s talk reasons for the transition to direct service and why the Intervale Center is possibly exploring developing an Incubator 2.0.

The Intervale Center is a 36-year old nonprofit based in Burlington, Vermont recognized nationally for our work supporting farms. With a mission to strengthen community food systems that sustain farms, land, and people, we seek to enhance food production, steward the natural environment as the basis of our food system, and build the movement to strengthen community food systems. We provide one-on-one business planning and technical assistance to farmers of all stages of business as well as specialized assistance in the areas of land access, including the administration of the online tool, Vermont Land Link.

Nikki Lennart (she/her), Farm Business Specialist at the Intervale Center, has worked directly with farmers on business development and land access for over five years. Nikki’s work focuses on helping beginning farmers navigate land access challenges - identifying appropriate, affordable and secure land tenure, evaluating financing options, and supporting land agreement negotiations and farm transfers.

Even if you don't have all the answers, come join us and learn and share your alumni support challenges with your peers.  We host monthly networking sessions throughout the year (usually on the First Fridays of the month at 1pm EST) as a way to connect, continue to learn from one another, build the network, and engage in topic-based discussions of interest (bring your enthusiasm for a topic you’d like to discuss). If you have new staff working with your incubator farm program or your apprenticeship training program, please invite them to come and network and meet their peers across the country to build connections.  For any questions about the networking sessions, please reach out to:  Jennifer Hashley, New Entry Director.