What’s part speed dating and part mini-retreat? Sounds a lot like the Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts’ 2013 Fall Forum (BFN-Mass) held this past November 12 in Charlton MA
The fast-paced event was interactive and action-oriented, generating connections between and among, farmers and service providers. Roundtables, action topics, ‘ice breakers’, a timeline and speed dating-type introductions by service providers kept things moving. Roundtable topics included Land Access, Agriculture and Climate Change, Livestock, and others, while action discussions formed around Debt and Credit, Scaling-Up and Avoiding Burnout, Women in Agriculture, and Farm Knowledge and Skills. We also got a quick tour of the Resources page of BFN-Mass website (http://www.bfnmass.org/resources), that allows service providers to add their services so they can be found by farmers.
And since good food and drink is key to lively discussion and meeting new friends, all were well- fueled by a delicious lunch featuring fresh Shy Brothers cheese, Sidehill Farm yogurt, Hutchins Farm apples, Lanni Orchards cider, and much more.
The Forum was attended by nearly 100 farmers, educators and advisors. Support from elevent sponsors showed clear evidence of the value of BFN-MA and the wealth of resources available to beginning farmers in the state. Land For Good was proud to sponsor the event along with colleagues from FarmTek, The Carrot Project, CISA, MDAR, NOFA/Mass, SEMAP, NEFU, USDA- NASS, Farm Credit East, and New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.
I was pleased to make some opening remarks about the importance of networks for service providers, especially since collaboration and referrals within networks is essential to Land For Good’s work on farmland access, transfer and tenure issues. At the level of policy and direct service, we rely on relationships and networks with other educators and advisors. Whether we are helping a landowner consider making land available – or helping a farm seeker make a plan – it’s our job to know who else is out there to help someone take the next step or make the best decision for them. A systems perspective on farmland access demands that the service provider network be better coordinated, integrated and informed about land access issues and resources.
Most of all, it was fun to meet everyone in the room and learn about the resources and relationships we need to foster to succeed in our farming and work. Thanks Margiana and BFN-MA for supporting farmers in Mass. and keeping us all connected!
For more information, check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/484023431693584/