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Central Illinois Farm Beginnings

Join Central Illinois Farm Beginnings to build your budding farm business plan and gain a lifelong farm family and a network of support.

Central Illinois Farm Beginnings (CIFB) is a training program for those committed to creating a sustainable farm business. We host Farm Beginnings to provide the best resources, information, tools and mentoring to help you start your own farm business in Illinois or Indiana.

CIFB courses are held on five Saturdays between November and February each year, and students present their farm business plan at the end of the course. After the course is complete, students are paired with mentors to gain the most valuable experience—on-farm learning. Our 40+ mentor network spans across the Midwest and includes some of the best and most influential farmers in our region. Here are the key components of the course, with links to preview the curriculum, our mentor network, and available workshops and field days:

  • Five full-day seminars on business and enterprise planning. Presenters include successful farmers, business people, and experts from the University of Illinois and USDA. The seminars are held on Saturdays from November-February.
  • Two-hour individual business planning consultation.
  • Mentorships that give every CIFB student the opportunity to engage in a season-long relationship with an experienced local farmer (March-October).
  • Post-course reflection presentation and potluck.
  • Field days and workshops offered through The Land Connection, which provide hands-on instruction in farmer-identified areas of need (March–November). These are available to CIFB students at a discount.
  • $100 stipend to attend a relevant conference of your choice.

After completing the course and mentorship, students leave feeling well prepared to launch their very own farm business and have gained a local farm family to continue to grow their business' success.

Where: TBD in the Springfield/Jacksonville area

When: Five Saturdays between November 17 - February 16, plus mentorship through the rest of the year and final presentations on October 6 (Dates are subject to change based on the availability of the location).

How Much: $1,450 (includes $100 in meals, $75 in course materials, $300 to pay your mentor, and a $100 stipend to attend the conference of your choice = a $575 value!)

Register by September 1 and get the Early Bird rate of $1,350.

Important Dates: Final application deadline October 14

CIFB will help you:

  • Craft a detailed business plan for your farm, including your vision, mission, goals, and marketing and finance strategies.
  • Tap into the knowledge of innovative and skilled farmers. 
  • Access opportunities for land and equipment use. 
  • Receive mentoring from a farmer engaged in a similar enterprise.
  • Develop lasting relationships with many beginning and experienced farmers, plus a wide range of relevant professionals, including USDA specialists, farmers market managers, accountants, and attorneys.

Interested in joining our next CIFB class? Apply now!

Want to learn more? Contact our farmer training program manager, Mallory Krieger, at

What have our CIFB Graduates said?

Refund policy: The Central Illinois Farm Beginnings application fee is non-refundable. Tuition is refundable under special circumstances to be determined on an individual basis with the farmer training program manager.