Become a BFTP Training Farm

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. Level 2 is the flagship level of our program, founded by Jack and Beckie Gurley and Cathy Tipper in 2009. This level requires the greatest time commitment from trainees, requiring 200 hours of on farm training (typically one day per week for about six months) with one of our training farm partners. This level is designed for folks who have started their own farm, are managing someone else’s farm or are actively pursuing their own farming project. 

This program relies on a network of incredible farmers that make on-farm learning opportunities for our trainees possible. We partner with producers who believe that it is critical to build the sustainable agriculture movement by educating more 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 training in diverse operation types, including: vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs, and livestock at urban, peri-urban, and rural farm settings.

Expectations of Training Farms

Trainers will:

  • Complete this Questionnaire to determine that they meet the Farmer Trainer criteria detailed within
  • Take the lead role in supervising and guiding Level 2 Trainees during their on-farm training at Trainer’s farm. They agree to supervise and guide trainees during their on-farm training days. Although Trainer is not required to supervise Trainee at all times, they agree to spend a significant amount (more than 50%) of the day with Trainee on their training days.
  • Understand that they are responsible for providing Trainee with the appropriate explanations and procedures, including the relevant safety training, when introducing a new task. Where the explanation of a new task is assigned to another member of Trainer’s farm, Trainer understands they are responsible for any information, including relevant safety training, conveyed to Trainee.
  • Provide Trainees with guidance on how to approach management-level decisions on the farm. In addition to providing Trainees with thorough instruction on day-to-day production techniques. Topics may include, for example, crop planning, marketing strategies, long-term strategies for soil health on a farm, etc. 
  • Use reasonable efforts set aside time in the Winter season to discuss relevant topics and procedures with Trainee and, where possible, include them in processes such as crop plan updates, seed orders, etc.
  • Meet with their insurance provider and inform them that Trainer plans on participating in BFTP and will have BFTP trainees on their farm.
  • To help offset the cost of the extra time that Trainers spend working with Trainees, we offer a $500 stipend.

Application process:

Please complete the form below to be considered for our list of training farms.  We accept training farm applications on a rolling basis. We will follow up with next steps within 30 days of receipt. Trainees are matched annually in November for the following year with training farms based on criteria including but not limited to location and area of expertise. Please note that you are not guaranteed a trainee if you do become a part of our trainer farmer network.

BFTP Trainer Questionnaire

Questions? Please contact Joanna Winkler with any questions about the form or the program: