The Michigan Young Farmer Coalition was founded both to celebrate the skills and assets of young farmers, but also to address and raise awareness about the issues and challenges of young and beginning farmers. The follow is a brief description of some of the barriers we face and what might help to address those issues.
Helping young and beginning farmers is an important issue as the average age of U.S. farmers is 57; many young folks want to enter the profession and feed this nation and many food and farming organizations in Michigan as well as around the country are working to address this challenge. For more information on who and how, see our resources section!
The Michigan Young Farmer Coalition does work toward raising awareness of these issues and, in some cases, we work to directly address them through coalition events, advocacy and projects. We feel that if we could help two young farmers in each regional hub learn how to do (or develop existing skills in) organizing their communities, we would greatly impact our own network of young and beginning farmers as well as the people and communities in which we live and work.
- MYFC-HAVEN Garden Project
- Young Farmer Focus Group & Best Practices Guide (Document in Development)
- MYFC Retreats
- MYFC Email Discussion List
Access to Land:
- Land that is affordable
- Land located in a place where the farmer can be a part of some kind of community (farming/otherwise)
- Healthy, or able to undergo remediation
- Communities that support and encourage local agriculture
- Help with debt/credit/financing to get started
- Lenders and investors that understand and can adjust to the business of farming, especially smaller-scale farming
- Support in maintaining good/sustainable business practices
- Help with knowing what grants, loans and other forms of financing are available to young farmers
Business, Marketing & Risk Management
- Developing viable business plans
- Marketing (healthy and cooperative competition in local markets)
- Developing appropriate partnerships with other farmers, community members, institutions and markets
Network & Community
- A network of other folks in the same/similar situation
- A forum for voicing ideas, concerns, and need for collaboration
- A way to promote and celebrate projects and successes of young & beginning farmers
Training and Mentorship
- Affordable or free programs that help young people to enter farming as a viable profession (training, space, network, mentorship, etc.)
- Apprenticeships/Internships that employ best practices, ensuring a good relationship and experience for all parties involved
Advocacy & Leadership Development
- Leadership skills for organizing communities of and among young & beginning farmers
- Avenues for building awareness and momentum for support in our own communities across Michigan.