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About the BF Learning Network

In Sept. 2009, the Cornell Small Farms Program received funding from the USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. One piece of our project involved facilitating and mapping a network of people who provide any services directly targeted to aspiring or beginning farmers. We’ve called this the Northeast Beginning Farmer Learning Network.

Our interest is in connecting the pieces of the BF support system in the Northeast, to facilitate peer learning and collaboration among the many groups who serve this audience, in order to strengthen the support network for new farmers.

Who’s Part of the Network?
We have invited people and organizations from across the Northeast to join: Cooperative Extension educators, University faculty, FSA and NRCS employees, non-profits serving beginning farmers, and experienced farmers who place a special emphasis on training the next generation of farmers. New members are always welcome to this informal network. Feel free to invite anyone you know in the Northeast who provides mentoring, loans, training, technical assistance, land access, business planning, etc specifically targeted to beginning farmers. We have a few members from outside the Northeast as well, who don’t have access to a similar network in their region. We welcome participants from any part of the country, but the emphasis is on the Northeast.

How Do I Join?
From the email address you’d like to use for your list subscription, send an email to BFlearningnetwork-L-request@cornell.edu and type the word “join” (without quotations) in the body of the message.

What Do You Mean by Northeast?
Our definition of Northeast includes: ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, NY, PA, NJ, DE, MD, WV, and DC. In reality, we have much more contact with the states nearest NY, and very little interaction with the states further away. We’d like this to change, so we welcome your suggestions for recruiting colleagues in less well-represented states to join the network.

What Do You Mean by “Beginning Farmer”?
We use the USDA definition of any farmer in operation less than 10 years. We also include those people who are exploring or planning to become farmers. We include “new” farmers who grew up on farms and are now taking on management responsibilities, as well as those who are starting from scratch with little or no ag background. We include organic, conventional, small, large, urban, rural, young, mid-career, and retiring professionals, and farmers of diverse ethnicity in our definition and in this network. Our interest is in building a network of organizations that support people in the Northeast who want to derive some or all of their income from the production of food, fiber, fuel, or forestry products.

What’s Appropriate to Send on the List?

Our intention was to create a communication tool for:

  1. Sharing events or opportunities that could benefit new farmers anywhere in the Northeast
  2. Sharing professional development opportunities of interest to BF supporters anywhere in the region
  3. Seeking information from each other about what’s been done, lessons learned, successes, etc.
  4. Presenting opportunities for collaboration
We probably shouldn’t use this list for:
  1. General organizational announcements without specific relevance to BF service providers on a regional level
  2. Events that are not likely to draw an audience beyond your local area

How Do I Send to the List?
You must first be subscribed. Once you are, simply send a message to BFlearningnetwork-L@cornell.edu. Please use a clear subject line description for your messages.

How Do I Unsubscribe?
Send a message to BFlearningnetwork-L-request@cornell.edu with the word “leave” (without quotations) in the body. There are also instructions on how to unsubscribe at the bottom of every message you receive from the list.

Any questions? Contact Erica.