Beginning Farmer Training
The GoFarm Beginning Farmer Training program trains and mentors beginning farmers, helping them start their own farm and reducing the barriers of entry into a career in agriculture, especially for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, women and veteran farmers who have historically been denied access to many of the resources needed to begin a farm. We provide access to land, infrastructure, technical assistance, classroom curriculum, and mentorship, as well as offer three different program tracks to choose from. These program tracks include: Incubator Farmer, Intern, and Extern.
Being an incubator farmer is a two-year commitment. Farmers manage their own farm plot and receive support and mentorship while developing and managing their own farm business from the ground up. Along with building technical farming skills and gaining access to convenient sales avenues, they receive a comprehensive classroom curriculum which includes lessons on business planning, crop planning, farm management, financial management, marketing, etc. After graduating from the program, we help farmers establish independent, sustainable farms outside of the program.
The internship lasts for one summer season. Interns gain farming experience by assisting incubator farmers in the fields, as well as gain exposure to many aspects of the local food system including buying, distributing, and marketing.
Applications for 2022 internships are open!
The externship is a one year commitment. We help externs develop their own business and management plan for a future career in agriculture. Externs participate in coursework and learn about what's needed to create a viable farm business, as well as attend monthly workshops throughout the year. The externship is offered for a fee but scholarships are available. Please reach out for more information about scholarships.
Why We Started The Beginning Farmer Training Program
For the past 50 years, the Denver Metro area has been steadily losing farms and farmland. In addition, the average age of a Colorado farmer is 58 years old, and studies estimate that as many as 50% of farmers will retire within the next decade.
Over the past 7 years, Colorado’s population has increased by over 550,000 residents, and in the Denver Metro area, 24% of the population are millennials. This influx of young Coloradans has resulted in an increase of young entrepreneurs interested in farming.
We know how hard it can be to start a farm. The start-up costs, access to land and water, and industry knowledge/technical skills required all pose immense limitations on who can start a farm and where. GoFarm is here to provide the support and mentorship to help passionate beginning farmers be successful, and to strengthen our local food system as a whole!
Applications for becoming an incubator farmer or extern will open in spring or summer 2022! You can view the application documents from 2021 to get an idea of what to expect for the upcoming application.
Note: To remove inequities in our food system, we give preference to women, veterans and people of color who apply to our incubator program. We also partner with the Denver Botanic Gardens - Chatfield, Veterans to Farmers program to open the doors of farming to our vets.
Incubator farmers receive valuable mentorship from experienced local farmers throughout their time in the program. We’re always looking for experienced farmers to join our network and help mentor beginning farmers. If you are available and willing to lend a hand or an ear, to a beginning farmer, contact GoFarm's Farmer Assistance Program Manager, Kevin, at Kevin@gofarm.org about being a mentor. Farmer mentors get paid hourly for mentorship provided.
Testimonials from Incubator Farmers
This is an awesome program that I have been fortunate to experience firsthand. The stipend has allowed me to decrease my work hours to spend time developing my business and production plan. I was also able to take advantage of all the hands-on training offered through the program and find land to start on after searching for a couple of seasons. I got my FSMA certification, cottage foods certification and attended workshops taught by horticulture professors on pest control, weed and disease ID and got connected with all of the urban farmers in my region. There is no way I could have afforded all the training and resources without the help of the apprenticeship program. My mentors through the GoFarm program have offered priceless guidance and have become dear friends.
~ Shannon, Western Flora
As a disabled veteran and apprentice of this program I have greatly appreciate the stepping stones and guidance of starting my own farming business. The mentorship is excellent (Jamie is literally one of the most smartest people I’ve met). Katie the main farmer manager, who runs her own successful farming business and also provides mentorship, has not only been an advocate for some of us that have experienced disadvantages and struggles, but has been truly there for us as a leader and friend. No matter your background, GoFarm welcomes you. Whether you come from privilege, hardships, discrimination, sexism, trauma, racism...etc this is an opportunity for you to empower yourself to become a better farmer, business owner, and human. Farming is therapeutic and without GoFarm’s opportunity I don’t know where I would truly be. I attribute me choosing life to farming and GoFarm has aided me in that journey, so I am forever grateful.
~ Jess, Netzel Farms
So grateful to be a participant in this incubator program. The support and mentorship I’ve received from GoFarm has helped me start a profitable farm business that I can continue to build on over the coming years. I would highly recommend it to anyone who dreams of starting a small farm and is willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen!
~ Ashley, Paper Kite Farm
This is an amazing organization/program/network. GoFarm and the farmer incubator program have provided the launching pad and continuous support for numerous urban farms in the Denver Metro area. We are recipients of the MANY perks that come with being involved with GoFarm programs. Even if you only reach out you will be plugging into a passionate and dedicated network in this area.
~ Ivan, SoCliff Farm