Agricultural Leadership Development Initiative

Future Harvest is thrilled to be in the second year of the Agricultural Leadership Development Initiative. A program to give experienced BIPOC Farmers and Military Veterans the skills they need to advance their farming careers and become leaders in their communities.

The goal of the Agricultural Leadership Development Initiative (ALDI) is to deepen BIPOC Farmer and Military Veterans’ engagement in the Chesapeake Region by building a multi-state collaborative of standout farmer leaders, stakeholders, and future policy makers. The program will offer tailored, culturally sensitive training consisting of nine months of free, multi-modal training (including classroom curricula, on-farm and online learning, and one-on-one mentorship). Through the Initiative, these farmers will access enhanced training, education, and mentorship, enabling them to master skills needed to advance their careers and master the skills necessary to run a successful and profitable farming operation. This solid foundation will help them to either grow their current farm businesses or launch their own farms in the future.

Farmers who participate in this program can expect to gain training in a range of topics including social media marketing, co-op development, record keeping, business management, specialty crop marketing, policy, grants and loan management, USDA programs and more. Farmers will also have the opportunity to attend hands-on field days, participate in farmer led study circles and receive one-on-one business coaching. Farmers in the program will also gain support in soil health management and receive free soil testing through the Million Acre Challenge.

This program is funded in part by a generous 2501 grant from the USDA. The 2501 Program was created to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters who have historically experienced limited access to USDA programs and services.

Future Harvest will use its network, experienced staff, our established Field School program, and partnerships with Fields 4 Valor, the Common Grain Alliance and the Million Acre Challenge, to connect socially disadvantaged farmers to peer-to-peer study circles, leadership exercises, brand building, and effective marketing. Through programming designed to improve the new leaders with vital financial literacy and record-keeping skills, business decision-making, and soil health management, and to connect them with similarly situated peers to hedge against farmer burnout and isolation, we can effectively set them up for ultimate success.  

In 2022 we had guest speakers and teachers from the National Young Farmers Coalition, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Climate Justice Alliance, Foodshed Capital, FarmRaise, Earthbound Building, 4P Foods, Carter Farms and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

By participating in this program, farmers will be able to stay connected to the Future Harvest network and contribute their skills and expertise to the next generation of farmers.

Applications for the 2024 Agricultural Leadership Development Initiative will open in the fall of 2023.