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Mentorship Program Helps New Farmers

BEND, OR -- A new mentorship program aims to address the changing face of Oregon’s agricultural community. Bend-based High Desert Food and Farm Alliance launched “Growing Together” last month. HDFFA’s Annie Nichols says it helps a rising number of growers who weren’t raised on the farm, "I think we’re seeing a shift in agriculture as a lot of new producers are getting into this field. They’re interested in growing food and nourishing their communities, they’re interested in stewarding the land but they don’t have that generational knowledge." She tells KBND News, "We’ve had folks come from journalism, supply chain management; pick a field and you’ll find somebody who’s retired from that life and gone into farming."

She says three farms have signed on as mentors in Alfalfa, Antelope and Tumalo. Those mentors are compensated for their time through a USDA grant, while mentees receive help for free. So far, two mentee farms are participating, in Sisters and east of Bend. Nichols says that extra emotional and knowledge support increases the chance for their success, "Making the connections, so they can ask, ‘what do I do when I’m getting rot on my potatoes?’ or ‘how did you get into the Bend Farmers Market?’ It’s not even just production but understanding some of those things that many of these farmers have had to figure out themselves." Click HERE for more information.

 

Photo courtesy HDFFA

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