Farming in the City

Monday, June 16, 2014 // Jennifer Hashley

From rural to suburban, peri-urban, and now really bona fide urban agriculture, New Entry has partnered with the Urban Farming Institute of Boston to teach potential food producers from the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester the basics of farm business planning in the city.

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston (UFIB) is a social innovation organization founded in 2012 to support the development of urban farming in Boston and in other urban areas of Massachusetts as a way to promote and support innovative approaches that address economic disparity, particularly in lower income neighborhoods. UFIB's 2014 class of trainees was a diverse group of 22 individuals with a desire to get their hands dirty and learn about urban ag opportunities. New Entry partnered with UFIB to provide classroom instruction covering marketing, production, crop planning, business and financial planning, and risk management strategies.

“The students are very engaged and have been hungry to learn the entrepreneurial skills needed to farm,” says course instructor Margiana Petersen-Rockney. “We have focused the coursework on introducing students to both what is involved in farming and developing leadership and small business skills that can be transferred to any type of enterprise.”

Of the course participants, approximately 10 will go on to participate in the apprenticeship hands-on training program, which is a commitment by participants to spend 20 hours a week for the 30-week growing season learning hands-on urban ag production skills. Successful candidates from the apprenticeship training program either move on to become “Enterprise Growers” who become profit-sharing partners of the for-profit brand, City Growers, or folks can begin their own urban agriculture commercial venture.

New Entry will be offering 13 workshops on different topics to impart practical growing skills and techniques over the course of the summer season. Margiana expects the practical trainings to complement the course nicely. “After eight weeks of classroom learning, students are eager to get in the field and learn hands-on farming skills from pest management to record keeping.”

New Entry's partnership with UFIB is funded in part by the MDAR Urban Agriculture and Northeast IPM Center grant programs.

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