Despite a lifelong passion of farming or years of experience working on a farm, establishing a farm in today’s challenging economy is no easy task. After taking into consideration the fluctuating commodity prices, unpredictable weather and expensive startup cost, many people disregard the possibility of ever having their own farm. Although agriculture can be an intimidating market to enter, keep in mind tough times call for an even stronger support system. The support system for individuals who are interested in operating their own farm starts with GreenStone’s Young, Beginning and Small Farmer (YBSF) program.
GreenStone is proud to support agriculture by providing YBSFs educational opportunities and resources to help guide them through the challenging industry. Within GreenStone’s YBSF initiative is the Grow Forward Grant Program. By providing up to $40,000 in grants each year for YBSFs, the cooperative is able to ease financial burdens farmers face when attending educational seminars or when seeking strategies to strengthen their business. These grants also cover the cost of additional resources such as educational programs, courses and business or accounting consultations.
To be eligible for a Grow Forward Grant, applicants must fit the requirement of the YBSF program. Qualifications for the YBSF program are:
- 18-35 years of age, or
- Farming for less than 10 years, or
- Sustain annual gross sales from agricultural production of less than $250,000
- Must be eligible to be a member of GreenStone; reside in Michigan or northeast Wisconsin
These grants are available to YBSFs who are interested in bettering their farm’s sustainability, business strategy or themselves, regardless if the farmer is a Greenstone member. A GreenStone YBSF member can receive up to $1,000 in grants and up to $500 is available to non-members. With up to $40,000 available in grants each year, GreenStone looks forward to helping many YBSFs navigate their journey of operating and managing their own farm.