March 2009


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Beth Holtzman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont New Farmer Network <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 3 Mar 2009 15:05:35 -0500
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Hello New Farmer Network members,

I'm writing to invite you and colleagues at your organization to 
participate in one of four upcoming focus groups on beginning farmer needs.

These focus groups are part of a SARE-funded project is designed to 
educate agricultural professionals about the challenges that beginning 
farmers face; stimulate changes in service delivery to make it more 
responsive to beginning farmersí needs; and develop a corps of service 
providers better skilled at assessing stakeholder needs and using that 
information to develop programs. An unofficial goal of this project is 
to engage key stakeholders in defining what an effective, statewide, 
beginning farmer program would look like, and which would help inform 
Vermont proposals to the new Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development 

Additionally, any agricultural service providers who participate in a 
focus group will be eligible to apply for a $1000 mini grant to conduct 
beginning farmer programming in the next year.

The focus groups will use a fishbowl approach (in which farmers serve as 
educators) to explore the interconnected challenges that beginning 
farmers face in terms of access to land, capital and credit, and 
building production, marketing, business planning, and financial 
management knowledge and skills. The focus groups will be held on farms 
and will include lunch and a farm tour. Last January, we conducted a 
pilot focus group which was very well received by both service providers 
and farmers. All of the service providers reported learning something 
new, and all the farmers reported feeling comfortable and respected 
during the process. "I liked the opportunity to brainstorm and connect 
with other farmers," one producer said afterwards."The conversation from 
the group of farmers was quite different than talking to each one 
individually," observed a service provider. "I enjoyed the dynamic."

The four focus groups will be held at the following dates and locations:

-- March 25 at Cerridwen Farm in Poultney at Green Mountain College;
-- March 27 at The Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick;
-- April 2 at the Harlow Farm in Westminster
-- April 9 at Applecheek Farm in Hyde Park.

You can this link:

to sign up for one of the focus groups. Please forward this message both 
to farmers and service providers you think might be interested in 

Thanks in advance for your help.


Beth Holtzman
Outreach Education Coordinator
Women's Agricultural Network
University of Vermont Extension
617 Comstock Rd.
Berlin, VT 05602
617 Comstock Rd.
Berlin, VT 05602

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