Study Circles

Future Harvest Study Circles are intimate gatherings of 5-10 farmers, in-person and/or online, where like-minded and like-scaled farmers share experiences and challenges and engage in group oriented problem-solving. These groups are supported by a skilled farmer facilitator. We see the immense benefits of farmer-to-farmer conversations during our Field School events and decided to facilitate them more intentionally! Each group discusses topics agreed upon by the participants of the groups; examples of topics addressed include: crop production, finances, pests, labor management, legal issues, and more. These sessions are a space for honest, productive discussion about the state of your farm operation and the issues and decisions your farm is facing in real time.

We are offering three new study circles for the 2022  season. One for urban farmers in DC/PG County, one for farmers interested in meeting to discuss employee management, and one for farmers interested in meeting to improve pest management.

Benefits for participating farmers:

  • Build a close community of farm peers.
  • Create a safe space to troubleshoot, problem solve, and celebrate.
  • Have reliable contact with an experienced farmer consultant who will share hard-earned insights and offer strategic guidance as you make big decisions for your farm.
  • Tap into the greater Future Harvest community for resources, contacts, and assistance.
  • Get support for your farm beyond the start-up years.

“We have participated in a study circle for two years now and it has been invaluable!  We look forward to this monthly hour: some months it is filled with mentorship, problem-solving or education and other months it is filled with support, empathy and words of encouragement.  Farmers live a very unique lifestyle that others simply cannot relate to. Having a small cohort of other farmers that we check in with regularly as a sounding board, source of inspiration and pool of knowledge has made a huge difference for us personally as well as for our business.”

 

– Brian Knox and Jennifer Vaccaro, Where Pigs Fly Farm

 

“The Future Harvest farmer study circle has been an amazing resource for me over the past two years. It’s a valuable learning opportunity for an intermediate grower that gets beyond the basics of crop planning and business development. Our facilitator is great, the peer support from other farmers is so special, and I have learned a ton.” 

– Maya Kosok, Hillen Homestead

 

NOW ACCEPTING SIGN-UPS! 

We are offering three new study circles for the 2022  season. See below for more information including how to sign-up. Space is limited to keep the groups small. Deadline for sign-ups is Friday, January 7th, 2021 at 5pm. 

Urban Farmer Study Circle (NEW!): For urban farmers in DC/PG County. This group will be facilitated by Myeasha Taylor, Farm Production Manager at Black Yield Institute, and will offer a mixture of virtual and in person opportunities for farmers to share best practices, troubleshoot challenges, network, and build partnerships. To learn more and sign-up, contact Samaria King at samaria@futhreharvest.org.

Employee Management Study Circle (NEW!): For small-to-mid scale farmers anywhere in the Chesapeake Region interested in discussing topics related to employee management. This group will be facilitated by Ellen Polishuk, Farm Consultant at Plant to Profit, and will include guest visits from legal experts at the Agriculture Law and Education Initiative. Participants will identify which employee management topics to drill down on over the course of several meetings. To learn more and sign-up, contact Niamh Shortt at niamh@futureharvest.org.

Improving Pest Management in the time of Climate Change Study Circle (NEW!): For small-to-mid scale farmers anywhere in the Chesapeake Region interested in discussing how to improve pest management in a changing climate. This group will be facilitated by Ellen Polishuk, Farm Consultant at Plant to Profit, and will include guest visits from entomologists such as Emily Zoble from UMD Extension. Participants will meet monthly to talk about the new pressing problems of the month. To learn more and sign-up, contact Niamh Shortt at niamh@futureharvest.org.

Baltimore Study Circle. *FULL* Consists of cut flower farmers growing on 1/2-2 acres. Questions? Contact Niamh Shortt at niamh@futureharvest.org.

Delmarva Study Circle. *FULL* Consists of vegetable and livestock farmers growing on 1-35 acres. Questions? Contact Niamh Shortt at niamh@futureharvest.org.

Northern Virginia Study Circle. *FULL* Consists of vegetable farmers growing on about 1 acre. Questions? Contact Niamh Shortt at niamh@futureharvest.org.

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This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIVA under Award Number 2018-70027-28588 and is supported by the Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center (NERME).

 

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Building a sustainable foodshed from farm and fishery to table