NIFTI & AgALN FIELD School

2024 National FIELD School - October 28 - 30, 2024 in Madison, WI

Planning is underway!

We are starting to develop plans for the 2024 FIELD School and we are excited to see you October 28-30, 2024 in Madison, WI for our next national gathering!  We are partnering with the FairShare CSA Coalition and University of Wisconsin-Madison - Dane County.  We will be sending out a Topic of Interest Poll soon to get your input to inform our planning and seek programming ideas, speaker suggestions, and topics of interest, so stay tuned! 

We are always seeking Sponsors to help make the FIELD School more accessible and add new features to our agenda to deepen our learning together, so if you know any groups that would be interested in supporting the event, please help connect them to Jennifer Hashley who can send more information on ways to support our collective work.

We look forward to seeing you this fall!

Prior National FIELD Schools

We host the National Field School in a different community each year.  We move the annual conferences across the country to create regional equity and to experience and honor the land and climates where our networks of apprenticeship and incubator farmers thrive.  We annually bring together over 45-60 organizations from almost every US state (and Canada) to participate in workshops, breakout and open space sessions, goal setting and networking opportunities. Peer-to-peer sharing informs beginning farmer trainers about how they run successful incubator and apprenticeship training programs.  Folks gather ideas for their farms and programs, and spent time building relationships with people passionate about our collective work.  We also host field trips to local incubator and apprenticeship projects to see programs' land-based facilities, farm/ranch operations, and to learn together how each incubator farm and apprenticeship training program is unique.  We often hear from farmer participants during these tours to get a holistic perspective on participants' involvement in the programs.

2023:  Kansas City, MO and Cultivate KC welcomed our 12th Annual National FIELD School this year!  We hosted 90+ participants from 24 states and 56 land-based farmer training organizations! We wore everyone out on the first day with field trips to five incubator and apprenticeship training programs across the region, gathering ideas, inspiration, and sharing challenges.  Check out photos from the 2023 FIELD School here. We then reenergized ourselves with an evening of networking and karaoke (a Cultivate KC tradition) to prepare us for two days of shared learning, networking, and community building at the beautiful Kauffman Conference Center.  Over 20 workshops (check out our 2023 Program Book) featured the expertise of members in our network. The plenary panel feature innovative cross-sector collaboration to support urban agriculture and multiple breakout sessions allowed groups to strategize how the network can support our ongoing professional development.  Our open space topics generated another 30+ topics folks were curious to discuss with one another.  All in all, this year was a huge success and we are grateful to our local host partners, Cultivate KC and New Roots for warmly welcoming us and providing such smooth event logistics and partnership!

2022:   We held our 11th Annual National FIELD School in Seattle, Washington with our co-hosts, Viva Farms and Organic Farm School!  We were grateful to be back in person for the first time since 2019, and everyone valued networking with 80+ peers from 26 states across the country in person with plenty of time for shared learning, networking, and visiting local farmer training programs. Detailed session descriptions and speaker bios can be accessed in the 2022 Program Book.  Check out photos from the 2022 FIELD School here. Our FIELD School was held at Centro de la Raza, a social justice organization meaning “The Center for the People of All Races.” We were grateful to hold space in a community-based organization that invites all people to continue the struggle for a better world by serving, educating, defending and organizing with each other to build the “beloved community.”

2021: COVID continued..so we hosted our 10th annual FIELD School in partnership with the 5th National Farm Viability Conference.  The National Farm Viability Conference is a biennial event that is focused on strengthening farm sustainability, building stronger and more resilient local food systems and supporting long term profitability of farming and agri-entrepreneurs from start-ups through to generational businesses. The conference offers professionals in the fields of farm and food business planning, financial planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development, and food hub management the opportunity to learn from and with colleagues, develop new skills, and connect with farm viability professionals from across the country. We incorporated our FIELD School sessions relevant to incubator farm and apprenticeship training programs within a diverse track of excellent workshops throughout the month-long virtual National Farm Viability Conference during October 2021. FIELD School attendees took advantage of our incubator and apprenticeship-focused professional development workshops and enjoyed access to 75 other conference sessions and networking opportunities with the 400 attendees who participated in the event. 

2020:  The year of COVID-19!  We held our 9th annual FIELD School virtually in collaboration with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's 35th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference.  The National FIELD School “Track” included an informative lineup of incubator and apprenticeship training program-focused workshops throughout the multi-day conference for participants.  We also hosted “meetups”, facilitated discussion sessions, virtual farm tours, and staffed a virtual “trade show” table where participants learned more about the newly emerging FIELD Network (the combination of our NIFTI and AgALN national networks)!  See the 2020 schedule of workshops and link to session recordings (purchase required). Over 250 unique participants attend the National FIELD School in 2020, the virtual format allowed even more participants to attend, learn from one another, and share best practices to improve land-based, experiential farmer/rancher training programs.  Special thanks to our 2020 National FIELD School planning team:  Beth LaShell, Ft. Lewis College; Matt Gordon, Rogue Farm Corps, Clare Reisman, UCSC CASFS Agroecology Apprenticeship Program; Leah Ricci, Quivira Coalition, and Aaron Newton, Steward.

2019:  We held our 8th annual and first ever combined NIFTI & AgALN Field Schools in Ithaca, NY, hosted by New Entry and The Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming.  We held two conference tracks:  one for incubator farm programs and one for apprenticeship training programs.  Incubator programs visited Groundswell Center's Incubator Farm in Ithaca, NY and RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Self Empowerment) SYRAP program in Syracuse, NY.  The Apprenticeship Programs visited Kingbird Farm and Northland Sheep Dairy.   View the 2019 Conference Brochure and Workshop Descriptions.

2018: The 7th annual NIFTI network Field School was held in Boulder, CO hosted by Denver Botanic Gardens and Ft. Lewis College (Old Fort at Hesperus Incubator Program) with site visits to Poudre Valley Community Farms, 5 Fridges Farm, Denver Green School, and The GrowHaus.

The 2nd Annual AgALN Annual Gathering was held in Albequerque, NM hosted by Quivira Coalition with site visits to Grow the Growers and Chispas Farm

2017:  The 6th annual NIFTI Field School was held in CA at Asilomar State Beach and Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA with a site visit to ALBA (Association of Land-Based Training) in Salinas, CA.

The 1st annual AgALN Annual Gathering was held in Boston, MA hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project as a pre-conference to our first national Community Food Systems Conference.  We also hosted a launch meeting for the AgALN Network at Paicines Ranch in CA earlier in the year.

2016:  The 5th annual NIFTI Field School was held in Ann Arbor, MI with site visits to Tillian Farm Development Center and Lansing Roots.

2015: The 4th annual NIFTI Field School was held in Chapel Hill, NC hosted by MDC, Inc. with site visits to Transplanting Traditions and Breeze Incubator Farm.

2014: The 3rd annual NIFTI Field School was held in Portland, OR hosted by EcoTrust with site visits to Headwaters Farm Incubator Program and Refugee Gardens (Mercy Corps NW).

2013: The 2nd annual NIFTI Field School was held at The Forest in Marine on St. Croix, MN hosted by The Food Group (formerly The Minnesota Food Association) with a site visit to Big River Farms.

2012: The 1st annual NIFTI Field School was held in Lowell, MA hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, with site visits to New Entry and the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT