Sometimes the best solution to a challenging situation comes from the experiences of someone else. Helping younger or beginning farmers learn from the experiences and observations of those who have been through the cycles is the purpose of the Farm Forward Mentorship program. Through this experience, the mentees are paired with mentors in the same or similar farm type to form a connection that allows them to share information and offer advice.The 18-month program uses expert facilitators to provide the framework while allowing each pair to create the structure that works best for them.
“The individual nature of each farm does not typically lend itself to a situation where farmers can learn from one another on a routine basis,” says Ian McGonigal, senior VP of regional sales. “This mentorship program is a way for young, beginning and small farmers to gain from the vast experience of others who have found success in the industry.”
This year’s program will kick off in December with an interactive day for the pairs, led by the facilitators. While there, the pair will arrange for onsite visits at both the mentee and mentor’s farm, followed by a serious of touchpoints to discuss the topics of most value and interest to them, such as: creating an effective business plan, managing risk, utilizing resources, and overseeing day-to-day operations.
“We learned from past participants, that both the mentor and the mentee find tremendous value in participating in the program,” McGonigal says. “For the mentor, they can call on the variety of experiences they have had to guide a younger farmer, while at the same time learn new ideas from the mentees.”
Farmers interested in participating in the Farm Forward Mentorship program can review the program details for more specific program details, and contact the local GreenStone branch.