New Farmer Pilot Project

The New Farmer Pilot Project will fill in the gaps that inhibit small, sustainable-practice farmers and horticulturalisits from starting new businesses in the county.

Why go through the start-up phase twice?

The New Farmer Pilot Project is a potentially transformative experiment unlike any other small-farmer training program in the country. 

The New Farmer Pilot Project will provide you with mentoring and specialized business training like marketing, accounting, business planning and advanced sustainable farm practices.

But, what makes our pilot unique is our “leapfrogging” of the physical incubator phase, and getting you onto a private, long-term leased site right away.

What does this mean, and why is it important?

Most farm incubator programs place farmers on shared space for a limited amount of time—usually about three years.

Ironically, upon entering these incubator programs, the farmers must almost immediately start preparing for the end of their terms, which includes finding a non-incubator site, soil conditioning at the new site, and planning their plots….And, this must all be done while operating their brand new businesses at the incubator site!

Our farmers will only have to go through the start up phase once.  

By matching new farmers with private land owners throughout the Agricultural Reserve from the beginning, our farmers will be singularly focused on growing their businesses instead of finding new real estate. 

The day you start the pilot project you’ll begin negotiations with a land owner, be matched with an experienced mentor and have access to business planning and technical resources that will help you make the most of your enterprise concept.  

Watch our New Farmer Pilot Project video here!

Please note: the application period for the first season of the New Farmer Pilot Project is now closed. Check back for more information on classes and opportunities to learn about local farming. In the meantime, you can explore the resource links listed on this page. 

Thanks for supporting the growth of local agriculture!

 

Thanks to our partners—the U.S. Small Business Administration; the University of Maryland Extension; Caroline Taylor, Montgomery Countryside Alliance; Woody Woodroof, Red Wiggler Community Farm; and Wade Buter, Butler's Orchard—for their leadership in this pilot.

For more information, contact Sarah Miller.