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Farmer Incubator Program

What: a program to get beginning farmers access to land, equipment, markets, and expertise

Why: because lack of access to those key components is all too common and can stop a good farm business before it starts

Who: those who are ready to start farming and need a little more assistance to get their business off (or on) the ground

Where: Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Champaign, Illinois, along with partners farms in Illinois and beyond

When: whenever you are ready to get started

Incubator farms help new farmer entrepreneurs overcome the barriers to accessing farmland and to mitigate risk in the early years of their enterprises. Incubator farmers rent a small parcel of farmland and/or the infrastructure for a farm enterprise, and also receive support from a community of new and experienced farmers and business mentors through The Land Connection’s farmer training and land access programs. While developing their businesses at the incubator farm, new farmers will develop the knowledge, connections, and resources they need to “graduate” and continue their farm businesses on their own land.

The Farmer Incubator Program was launched this year at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Champaign, Illinois, where Shea Belahi rents an acre and has access to the markets, equipment, and expert knowledge she needs to start her business, Heirloominous Farm.

We also partner with other established farms that can offer similar resources to farmers who are looking to get started. Now is the time to begin planning for the 2015 growing season. Please review our application materials and contact Jeff Hake, our Farmer Training Program Manager, at jeff [at] thelandconnection.org with any further questions.

Shea Belahi, our inaugural incubator farmer, plants garlic in the last light of a cold day in October 2013 in one of her plots at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery.