About The Beginning Farmer Program
NOFA-NJ is working with partners to create a comprehensive support system for beginning farmers in New Jersey. Qualified beginning farmers can receive stipends for educational courses and materials, scholarships to our annual Winter Conference, mentorship and access to land. In return, beginning farmers must complete a professional business plan and, upon completion of certain milestones, launch an independent farming business. We look forward to today's beginning farmers becoming tomorrow's mentors!
Beginning Farmer: A person who has operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less.
Mentor: A farmer who is successfully operating an independent farming business, or has successfully farmed for a period of 10 years or greater in the past. A mentor closely supervises and teaches apprentices on his or her own farm in order to educate the next generation of farmers. A mentor may also be a source of information to a journeyperson, who has residence either on the same farm as the mentor or at a separate location. The mentor-journeyperson relationship can vary widely based on the geographic distribution, schedules and preferences of both parties.
Apprentice: A farming "trainee," who is working under close observation from the mentor farmer in order to gain education in practical farming methods. An apprenticeship's compensation, hours and structure can vary from farm to farm, but there are important legal aspects that should be made clear from the outset of the educational agreement between the farm and apprentice.
Journeyperson: A beginning farmer who has recently begun farming independently, whether on an Incubator Farm or through a different land use agreement. Journeypersons make their own financial, marketing and production decisions, as they are operating an independent business, but have access to an experienced mentor for advice and encouragement.
Incubator Farm: In this context, a plot of land that is leased at a subsidized rate to a qualified beginning farmer. The Incubator Farm generally hosts multiple beginning farmers, each on separate plots, who have access to the land for a specific period of time. After trialing their farm and business plan, the beginning farmers are expected to launch an independent farming operation off of the Incubator Farm.