2013 October Newsletter - Northeast Organic Farming Association

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2013 October Newsletter - Northeast Organic Farming Association

Farmer Mentorship - An Invaluable Career MoveBy Suzy Konecky, NOFA/Mass Beginning Farmer Program Coordinatorit tight. “It was nice to be able tocontribute to a pretty major step inthe development of her farm,” saidLana.The Beginning Farmer Program aims to cultivatethe next generation of committed organic farmers inMassachusetts. Through three distinct educationalcomponents of the program, as well as educationalconference scholarships, we are able to offer youngfarmers, and those who are coming to farming aftera diverse range of careers, the opportunity to engagein educational opportunities that are appropriatefor where they are in their professional farmingdevelopment. The Mentorship Program is the largestcomponent. In this program, Beginning Farmers arematched with experienced mentors, who over thecourse of a year share their skills and experiences.This month I talked with two of the participants inthe program, Lana Cannon and Zannah Porter, whoshared their experience in the program thus far.Lana Cannon works as the CSA Coordinator for theCrop department at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA.She has lots of goals for this year: “I aim to commitmyself fully to ask questions, adapt my body and mindto the physical and mental challenges of farming...tocontinue on this path that makes me feel whole andfulfilled.”Lana’s mentor is Linda Ugelow of Dancing TomatoFarm. Lana visited the farm and helped Linda and herhusband put up the end of their new hoop house; theyhad to cut the plastic, hang it on a track, and stretchwith her mentor.Lana’s goal for the next few yearsis to work on her aunt’s sheep farmin Springvale, Maine. She wantsto integrate crops into the farmand help increase the flock from itscurrent size of 120 sheep. To thisend, Lana and Linda have spentsome time talking about businessplanning. Linda has generouslyoffered to share her business planwith Lana and offered to givefeedback on Lana’s plan. WithLinda acting as a sounding boardfor Lana’s business ideas, Lana isconfident that she will continue tolearn a lot from this relationshipAlready Linda has helped Lana prioritize her thoughtsand plans and has given some valuable second opinionson things. Lana has been working at Drumlin Farm,which is 15 acres, and knows that if she farms on herown some day, it will need to be a smaller operation.It was good for her to see Linda’s farm, which is on amuch smaller scale. Lana hopes to continue to learnfrom Linda’s experiences, successes, and challenges.Of her participation in the Beginning FarmerMentorship Program, Lana says,“I am so thankful to be partof the program. It was areally great career move.”Zannah is the Assistant Grower at Waltham FieldsCommunity Farm (WFCF). This is her second year atWFCF where she is responsible for managing a fouracresatellite site. The satellite site is about a 20-minutedrive from the main site, and she has a lot of autonomythere. Zannah decided to grow vegetables on threeacres and use the fourth acre for raising pastured pork.www.nofamass.org 14 October 2013 Newsletter

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