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About the BF Learning Network

In Sept. 2009, the Cornell Small Farms Program received funding from the USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program. One piece of our project involved facilitating and mapping a network of people who provide any services directly targeted to aspiring or beginning farmers. We’ve called this the Northeast Beginning Farmer Learning Network.

Our interest is in connecting the pieces of the BF support system in the Northeast, to facilitate peer learning and collaboration among the many groups who serve this audience, in order to strengthen the support network for new farmers.

Who’s Part of the Network?
Visit the Who Can Help? map on this site to see who is part of the Learning Network. We will continue to add more organizations and details to this map over time. Feel free to invite other people you know in the Northeast who provide mentoring, loans, training, technical assistance, land access, business planning, etc specially targeted to beginning farmers. Mostly this consists of organizations, but farmers who have a strong educational and/or mentoring focus (or who want to begin focusing on this) are included too.

How Do I Join?
From the email address you’d like to use for your list subscription, send an email to and type the word “join” (without quotations) in the body of the message.

What Do You Mean by Northeast?
Our definition of Northeast includes: ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, NY, PA, NJ, DE, MD, WV, and DC. In reality, we have much more contact with the states nearest NY, and very little interaction with the states further away. We’d like this to change, so we welcome your suggestions for recruiting colleagues in less well-represented states to join the network.

What Do You Mean by “Beginning Farmer”?
We use the USDA definition of any farmer in operation less than 10 years. We also include those people who are exploring or planning to become farmers. We include “new” farmers who grew up on farms and are now taking on management responsibilities, as well as those who are starting from scratch with little or no ag background. We include organic, conventional, small, large, urban, rural, young, mid-career, and retiring professionals, and farmers of diverse ethnicity in our definition and in this network. Our interest is in building a network of organizations that support people in the Northeast who want to derive some or all of their income from the production of food, fiber, fuel, or forestry products.

What’s Appropriate to Send on the List?

Our intention was to create a communication tool for:

  1. Sharing events or opportunities that could benefit new farmers anywhere in the Northeast
  2. Sharing professional development opportunities of interest to BF supporters anywhere in the region
  3. Seeking information from each other about what’s been done, lessons learned, successes, etc.
  4. Presenting opportunities for collaboration
We probably shouldn’t use this list for:
  1. General organizational announcements without specific relevance to BF service providers on a regional level
  2. Events that are not likely to draw an audience beyond your local area

How Do I Send to the List?
You must first be subscribed. Once you are, simply send a message to . Please use a clear subject line description for your messages.

How Do I Unsubscribe?
Send a message to with the word “leave” (without quotations) in the body. There are also instructions on how to unsubscribe at the bottom of every message you receive from the list.

Any questions? Contact .