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FAQs

What can I gain from mentorship?

While asking questions of an experienced farmer is a major benefit of mentorship, folks starting new farm enterprises stand to gain far more than just answers from their mentors. You may gain access to new markets and new communities, or to other farmers who can also offer expertise or are going through your same struggles. Mentors can provide support and encouragement in hard times, or wisdom and tricks of the trade that you will not find in any book or classroom.

How long do mentorships last?

Our formal mentorships last six months, starting when you sign your agreement with your mentor. However, these mentor relationships frequently carry far beyond the formal six months and can become partnerships that last a lifetime.

The mentorships are held in two cycles: Production season and planning season.

Production season mentorships run from March 15 through September 15, covering the main production period for many crops. This mentorship is not limited to topics of production, any question and focus is available to the beginning farmer.

Planning season mentorships run from September 1 through March 1, occurring during the dormant season. This mentorship offers better access to mentors because farming activities are less pressing.

How do I work with and learn from my mentor?

This is up to you and your mentor to determine. In your initial meeting, the mentor and mentee should both state clearly what their needs are. For instance, if the mentor only has time for regular phone calls and you need mentorship that involves working hands-on or more frequent contact, then we can help you seek another mentor match.

Every mentor is expected to meet at least once at the beginning farmer’s property and once at the mentor’s farm, and to communicate at least once a month with the beginning farmer. This once a month communication is the absolute minimum. It is your responsibility to initiate more contact with your mentor.

Do you evaluate the mentorships?

We will send out two surveys during your mentorship, to both you and your mentor, one halfway through the mentorship and one at the end. These tell us whether you are getting value from the mentorship and if your learning needs are being met. It is important that both mentors and mentees complete these evaluations so we know that everyone is happy with the progress of the mentorship. We will also check-in individually with you and your mentor at the one month mark, to ensure that the mentorship is getting off to a good start.

What happens if something goes wrong during our mentorship agreement?

Sometimes, communication breakdowns can occur. The Land Connection’s role in these situations is to help mediate. We take these rare instances on a case-by-case basis and encourage people to contact us should there ever be an issue which we can help resolve.

When can I apply?

We accept applications for the two mentorship cycles twice a year:

  • Production Season: January 1-March 1, with mentorship beginning March 15
  • Planning Season: June 15-August 15, with mentorship beginning September 1

Mentorship Timeline

What is the fee for this program and how do you use the fee?

The total fee for this program is $350. You will pay a non-refundable $50 fee when you submit your application. Once you have signed a mentorship agreement with your mentor, you will pay the remaining $300 to The Land Connection. This portion of the fee goes directly to your mentor to compensate them for their expertise and advice. We retain the $50 application fee to cover the costs of running the program.

Are there scholarships available?

Yes! Partial scholarships are available. If you would like to know more about this, contact our Farmer Training Program Manager at info@thelandconnection.org or by calling 217-840-2128.

What if you cannot find a good mentor match for me?

While we have a robust network of farmer-mentors, it is sometimes possible that we cannot find a mentor that fits both the geographical and professional requirements to be a good fit for mentorship. In this case, we will research and reach out to farmers with whom we have not worked and assess them for their mentorship capability. In addition, if you know of farmers in your area whom you think may be a good fit for you, you can let us know on your application and we can again assess them for their mentorship capability.

What are my responsibilities during the mentorship?

  • Take the lead on communication with your mentor
  • Communicate clearly and respectfully with your mentor
  • Communicate at least once per month with your mentor
  • Visit your mentor’s farm at least once
  • Invite your mentor to visit your farm at least once (if currently farming)
  • Contact The Land Connection’s farmer training program manager immediately if any problems or concerns arise during the course of the mentorship
  • Complete a mid-season and post-season mentorship evaluation survey

What are the mentor's responsibilites during the mentorship?

  • Visit your farm at least once
  • Host you at their farm at least once
  • Communicate clearly and respectfully
  • Be available for phone or email consultations
  • Share business planning, marketing, and/or production information, as appropriate, with your mentee
  • Contact The Land Connection’s farmer training program manager immediately if any problems or concerns arise during the course of the mentorship
  • Complete a mid-season and post-season mentorship evaluation survey
  • Offer constructive feedback to your mentee

Still have more questions? Contact The Land Connection’s farmer training program manager at info@thelandconnection.org or 217-840-2128.

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