Beginner Farmer Training Program

Our Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) offers a 12-month immersive training experience that combines a comprehensive classroom curriculum with hands-on learning at some of the region’s leading sustainable farms. Applications for 2024 have closed. Applications for 2025 will open in the fall of 2024.

  • We offer three training levels, designed to meet the specific needs of beginning farmers at different stages in their careers.
    • Level 1: Interested in farming but not sure where to start? Get your hands dirty with hands-on events and online classroom learning in this flexible program designed for folks who still work full time
    • Level 2: The flagship level of our program, designed for folks who have some on-farm experience build their skills and launch their farm businesses
    • Level 3: A mentorship program for farmers who have started their businesses and seek targeted support in both production and business 
    • Not sure which level is the best fit?
  • All three levels of the BFTP are FREE and trainees receive a host of benefits: annual FHCASA membership, free admission to our popular winter conference and year-round field days.
  • Join a diverse, inclusive network of new and experienced farmers! We are committed to building a safe, supportive network for all trainees, free from discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, religion, veteran status, military obligations, or marital status.
  • This is a region-wide program, open to beginning farmers in  MD, VA, DE—including the Delmarva Peninsula—and DC, WV, and PA.  We offer in-person farmer-to-farmer training opportunities throughout the Chesapeake region, and classroom requirements are completed online.
  • We offer training in diverse operation types, including: vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs, and livestock at urban, peri-urban, and rural farm settings.
  • The program is also designed with built-in scheduling flexibility to allow new farmers to further their training while maintaining their own farms or other work.
  • Accessibility: We are committed to making the BFTP accessible to all aspiring farmers. While our programs currently best serve folks located within 2 hours of DC or Baltimore or on the Delmarva peninsula, we work to develop custom learning plans for folks across the Chesapeake region. We want to make this work!  Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

TRAINING FARMS

Meet a few of our Level 2 BFTP Training Farms. These farmers provide on-farm learning opportunities for our trainees. If you are interested in becoming a training farm, please complete our BFTP Trainer Questionnaire and we’ll be in touch. Contact BFTP@futureharvest.org with any questions.

Carter Farms

Orange County, VA

VIEW BIO

Deep Roots Farm

Upper Marlboro, MD

VIEW BIO

SEE ALL TRAINING FARMS

LEVEL 3 CONSULTANTS

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BFTP

The BFTP was founded by organic vegetable farmers Jack and Beckie Gurley in 2009. They collaborated with Baltimore County  land preservation activist Cathy Tipper (who is now a farmer herself) to bring folks who were on the cusp of starting their own farms to Jack and Beckie’s farm to learn alongside them. They partnered with University of Maryland Extension to offer an in-person classroom component to the program. The program grew beyond Baltimore County with trainees and training farmers across the state and into Virginia. Thanks to a USDA  BFRDP grant, the program expanded to its current three levels in 2017, now reaching over 80 trainees per year.

Future Harvest has worked with more than 400 trainees since the BFTP was founded in 2009. 2022’s cohort of over 90 trainees spanned three states plus Washington DC. 65% of trainees identify as female and nearly 50% identify as Black. They have big dreams, ranging from increasing access to healthy produce in their neighborhoods, to revitalizing long- dormant or conventionally farmed land, to establishing a workplace accessible to people with disabilities.

Want to learn a bit more about the BFTP and how it can help you start your own farm journey? Check out these resources!