Tipper-Gurley Grow-a-Farmer Fund

Providing critical support for a profitable and sustainable farmer workforce

The Tipper-Gurley Grow-a-Farmer Fund benefits the Beginner Farmer Training Program’s (BFTP) mission: To gather and galvanize resources to achieve our vision of a new farmer workforce well trained in practices that are profitable, protect our land and water, and provide fresh, healthy food for our region’s communities.

Since the BFTP launched more than a decade ago, Future Harvest has trained more than 400 new farmers across the Chesapeake region in sustainable and regenerative practices. The BFTP provides a full year of FREE training to new farmers, ensuring that no farmer is ever turned away for lack of funds. We distribute thousands of dollars directly to limited-resource farmers each year in the form of needs-based, farm start-up mini-grants. The application process for next year’s training season is underway as we are reviewing more than 200 applications to match to the BFTP’s levels and Training Farms

The Tipper-Gurley Fund, named after the BFTP’s co-founders Cathy Tipper and Jack and Beckie Gurley (Calvert’s Gift Farm), supports our work to provide free access to critical training for our region’s future farmers.


Why make a donation?

As you can imagine, the costs of operating a free program are high. The great news is that we’ve been awarded USDA grants, but we now want to bring our mini-grant award back to $2,000 for each Level 2 Trainee. The Level 2 Trainees must complete 200 hours of hands-on farm training on individually selected trainer farms. We continue to add improvements to the BFTP each year with your support. Joanna Winkler, herself a graduate of the BFTP program, is now leading the program, and she is building a curriculum that is better than ever!

We are proud to say that the BFTP has been extremely successful at reaching and training more farmers of color and women farmers. In our 2022 class, 50% were racial minorities and 80% were women. These passionate, aspiring farmers are eager to learn sustainable ways to keep our water and air clean, soils fertile, communities healthy, farmland safe from development, and our local food system resilient. Also, each year we update our workshops with new farming techniques such as planting for carbon sequestration. You can learn more about some of our 400 BFTP graduates who have gone on to start small farm businesses here. Their profiles are truly inspiring!

Your tax-deductible donation helps to:

  • Train the next generation of Chesapeake farmers
  • Prepare new farmers for successful, climate-smart farming
  • Encourage individuals to enter farming with support and resources
  • ​Sustain a more resilient, crisis-ready local food system
  • Offer $2,000 mini-grants to qualified Level 2 Trainees

No gift is too small! The time is now! Together, we can continue our work to ensure that we have a sustainable, regional food system and a farmer workforce that is ready and able to feed our communities!

A letter from BFTP Co-Founder, Cathy Tipper

Dear Friends of Future Harvest,

Each fall, I ask you to consider making an investment in our local food system by making a donation to the Tipper-Gurley Fund for the Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP). Over the last 12 years, your donations have been critical to training over 400 BFTP applicants across the Chesapeake region in practices that are profitable, protect our land and water, and provide healthy food for our region’s communities.

With every new class of the Beginner Farmer Training Program, I am struck by the optimism, resourcefulness, and perseverance of our local farmers. It has been a privilege to watch many of the BFTP alumni advance their businesses, combat climate change, and become leaders in the agricultural community.

We frequently reflect on how we can create a more equitable foodshed. In 2021, 40% of the BFTP class were people of color and 71% were women. In 2022, then BFTP Director, AmyRose Foll launched the Agricultural Leadership Institute, an additional training program focusing on leadership development for BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) and veteran farmers.

I recently visited five of the dozens of BFTP affiliated urban farms in Baltimore – Plantation Park Heights, Whitelock Community Farm, Strength to Love II, Bliss Meadows, and Real Food Farm. These farms are working to increase healthy, local food access and bring food sovereignty to Baltimore, a city in which 1/4 of children and 1/4 of African Americans live in a food desert. These community spaces offer opportunities to discuss the food system, promote leadership skills, and foster civic engagement. I am moved by the legacy of commitment to community and lifelong learning that the farm workers emulate but also recognize that all of the Baltimore urban farms depend on grants to make ends meet.

In an effort to continue the accessibility of the BFTP and recognize the commitment our BFTP trainees make to their community, we aim to double our mini-grants offerings for the Level 2 BFPT trainees, but we need your help to fund this initiative!  Level 2 trainees get 200 hours of hands-on training experience on a qualified mentor farm throughout the 2022 season.  Please, make your gift to the Tipper-Gurley Fund for Beginner Farmers today. Together, we can continue our work to ensure that we have a sustainable, regional food system and a farmer workforce that is ready and able to feed our communities!

With gratitude,

Cathy Tipper

Co-Founder and Past BFTP Director