Farming is an ever-changing and dynamic business – and as such, the people working with farmers must also change and evolve. As a leader in the agriculture community, we have a long-time mission of providing ongoing learning and development opportunities to our member-owners and its employees. Helping both groups sharpen their skills and broaden their thinking keeps our customers on the leading edge.
Learning opportunities provided to our member-owners are delivered in a number of different ways, from one-on-one conversations with a GreenStone team member to large group seminars. We also offer peer and mentoring opportunities for more focused and individualized opportunities.
Farm Forward Mentorship:
Because experience often times is the best teacher, our Farm Forward Mentorship program helps the next generation learn from the experience of others. Through this program, young, beginning and small farmers partner with experienced mentors, generating an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge.
Professional business coaches and mentoring consultants facilitate the 18 month-long program. The program begins with a day of training and includes several coordinated conversations and site visits to mentor and mentee farms throughout the year. Some key areas of focus include: creating an effective business plan, managing risk, utilizing resources and overseeing day-to-day operations. Though these relationships will last long after, the official program concludes with a group celebration event at the end of the program.
We are actively seeking customers - both mentees and mentors - to participate in the next session beginning later this year. If you are interested in participating, contact your local branch.
Several times throughout the year, GreenStone participates in industry conferences and events to share information or to provide sponsorship support. Joining these conferences gives us the opportunity to hear first-hand information beneficial to our customers. It also grants us the chance to meet with our members and discuss current opportunities and challenges.
In addition to participation in other conferences, we also provide our own educational forums tailored to current events and market activity. In the spring, we hosted two logging forums, bringing in local specialists to discuss current happenings in the timber industry. Those conferences also provided opportunities for participants to earn SFI credits.
New this year are the GreenStone Producer Forums. These events bring in speakers to discuss innovations, market outlooks and updates on issues affecting the agriculture industry. There are two forums planned yet this summer, along with final forum after harvest. Topics will include:
- Using precision planting in acreage reporting
- Risk management tools in a tough economy
- Preparing a succession plan for your farm
- Farm labor procurement and management
- The next generation of robotic milking systems
Grow Forward Grant Program:
Participating in educational events and working with other professionals helps expand your knowledge and strengthen your business. That is why GreenStone hosts our own events as well as supporting other organizations doing the same. GreenStone’s Grow Forward Grant program provides up to $40,000 in grants to help offset young, beginning and small farmers’ cost of participating in these programs and services. Current customers are eligible for up to $1,000, while non-customers are eligible for up to a $500 reimbursement.
• Young, beginning or small farmers (YBSF) in GreenStone’s territory
-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
Intended grant use must fall within one of the following categories:
• Agricultural programs/events benefiting YBSF agricultural business: educational course/program, conference fees, etc.
• GreenStone resources (first time use): accounting and tax services, technology support, etc.
• Non-GreenStone services: business and farm consultants, etc.
Interested in applying? Grants are currently available! Find further details and apply at www.greenstonefcs.com/growforwardgrant.
In addition to participating in formal events and presentations, we provide ongoing resources through various means including our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin), the Open Fields blog on our website, as well as brochures and handouts available at our branches. We encourage you to follow us on social media and/or visit our website frequently for current information.
If you have ideas, topics or communication strategies you would like us to consider, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Locations and dates:
• August 8, 2018 at the Franklin Inn, Bad Axe
• August 15, 2018 at the Pinnacle Center, Hudsonville
• December 12, 2018 at the Comfort Inn, Mt Pleasant
To RSVP, please visit GreenStoneFCS.com/ProducerForum
Link to the full A Culture of Learning article: