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June 2023—New USDA Resource for Beginning Farmers and More!

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Hoch Orchard Transition—Livestock Handoff

By Brett Olson

On Tuesday, June 13, 2023, the animals that have been calling Hoch Orchard & Gardens “home” traveled to their new farms with their new families. In May, Renewing the Countryside—along with partners—held a livestock giveaway contest to find a “forever farm” for the Hoch’s hog and sheep breeding stock. The generous offer by the Hoch’s was an effort to help other beginning farmers succeed in getting established, as well as to raise awareness about the need for successors for their orchard business.

Harry Hoch said, “We are thrilled to know that these animals are going to new farmers who will continue to raise them with care on pasture.”

Sal Daggett and her husband arrived early in the morning ready to bring home their two sows and a breeding boar named Basil. Harry shook a bucket with a handful of oats in the bottom and with just a couple mentions of “here pig, pig,” the trio trotted up the ramp and onto the livestock trailer. “It’s a good thing they are being cooperative this morning,” said Harry, “because if a 400-pound pig doesn’t want to do something, there’s little you can do to change its mind.”

Kifah Abdi, along with her husband and two daughters, arrived shortly after to bring home 20 sheep. While the heat of midday could have made for extra work getting a couple of dozen sheep to fall in line, they seemed to have gotten the same memo as the pigs. Harry handed lambs over the gate to the waiting arms of Kifah and her daughter to put them in the pickup bed. Harry warned them, “hold on tight—they’re pretty squirmy!” Lucky for all of us no one got loose.

It was pretty obvious that Harry was going to miss his orchard crew but he remarked that if they are going to successfully transition the farm, he’s going to need to simplify and streamline operations.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of moving pieces to this place” remarked Harry. With 65 acres and 10,000 fruit trees plus a vineyard, commercial kitchen, a jam and jelly business, and markets for fresh and hard cider, it’ll take a person or group with the right motivation and skill sets to keep a handle on everything. The Hochs are willing to work with and assist an energetic and skilled successor (or successors), and when they do, Harry promised a pig roast at the farm to celebrate… and everyone is invited!

LSP's Farm Beginnings Class—A Rich Resource for Emerging Farmers

By Bonnie Warndahl

Land Stewardship Project (LSP) is once again offering their Farm Beginnings Class, which is a fantastic year-long training program for new and prospective farmers. I can attest to the value of this course and will always raise it up as one of the most valuable resources in our region for those seeking a career in farming. While business management is not directly related to land access, financing a farm becomes much easier when the relevant experience, skill sets, and business knowledge have been acquired by the farm-seeker.

I took Farm Beginnings from 2014–2015 and immediately began my farming career at the conclusion of this course. The Holistic Management focus gave me a solid foundation for choosing a niche and setting goals, following appropriate business practices (including marketing), and an often overlooked goal—setting up a healthy work/life balance. It also provided insights into various business structures and financial skills, potential legal issues, and filing complicated business taxes.

Ultimately, Farm Beginnings helps emerging farmers establish a successful farm business by developing their vision, acquiring tools and experience needed, and creating connections with a supportive community. I am still friends with folks I took the course with eight years ago and have made valuable connections with other farmers in my region who also completed the program before or after me—and have continued to learn from them!

If you have been seeking an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about running a successful farm business—this is your chance!

From LSP:

Farm Beginnings will be offered primarily online, with a few in-person sessions taking place in the Twin Cities, MN. The bulk of the class will run from November of 2023 through April of 2024.

The deadline for applications is September 1. Early bird applications submitted by August 1 will receive a $100 discount if you are accepted into the class. Scholarships will be available! Click here for more information about Farm Beginnings.

Click here to apply for Farm Beginnings 2023-2024.

For questions, please contact:

Annelie Livingston-Anderson (She/Her)

Program Organizer – Farm Beginnings


Upcoming Events

Building Community for Land Access (BCFLA)

You may have read about this series in past issues, which began in June. BCFLA has been a partnership between Land Stewardship Project, Kilimo Minnesota, Renewing the Countryside, Commons Land, Women Food and Agriculture Network, Sharing Our Roots, and Big River Farms, with the goal of lifting up the rich communities of African farmers in the upper Midwest and to build relationships for successful land tenure.

The first two sessions of the series were webinars. Both online gatherings were highly-attended and informative, full of inspirational conversations and progressive ideas. Plans to hold an in-person on-farm event in August are underway. Make sure to check for updated event details at LSP’s event link: ​​

Practical Farmers of Iowa Land Access Events

July 23—5 p.m., Denise O'Brien in Atlantic, IA—Meet Up following the field day. (Field day is scheduled 2-5 p.m. with dinner.)

Aug 20—3:30–4:30 p.m., Carmen Black, Sundog Farm in Solon—Meet up following field day. (Lunch served at noon. Field day scheduled 1-3 p.m.)

Sept 23—10 a.m. to noon, Mark, Melanie, and Monroe Peterson in Stanton—Family Farm transfer meet up integrated into field day. Lunch to follow.

Sept 8—12:30-2:30 p.m. Josh Nelson in Belmond, Iowa tenant/landowner topic integrated into field day. No meal.


USDA Farm Service Agency Partners with Local Agriculture Organizations to Create Wisconsin Beginning Farmer Resource Guide

MADISON, Wisconsin, June 14, 2023 – USDA Farm Service Agency in Wisconsin, in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Risk Management Agency; Rural Development; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and UW-Madison Extension is proud to announce the launch of the Wisconsin Beginning Farmer Resource Guide.

This guide was developed to provide producers just getting started in agriculture with a well-rounded resource. Set up as a road map, it walks beginning farmers through the various resources available to support them through their journey of starting an agriculture operation, farm, or food business. The road map includes stops for phases such as Brainstorming, Learning, Planning, Funding, Forming, Operating, and Networking, as well as additional resources.

“Our hope is that this guide can help set new producers in agriculture up for success,” said Katie Demrow, USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinator in Wisconsin. “We recognized that there was a need for resources from several organizations in Wisconsin and we wanted to come together to provide this tool to help build and support the future of Wisconsin agriculture.”

Producers can find the guide here: Wisconsin Farm Service Agency website, by contacting a local USDA Service Center, on DATCP’s Wisconsin Farm Center website, or by contacting any of the other partners listed above. Look for it at agriculture events and conferences across the state in the coming months.

Farm Transitions Page

Are you a landowner interested in transitioning your farm to the next generation? You may want to consider featuring your farm’s profile on the new “Transitions” page on the Farmland Access Hub website. It is our hope that this page will become a central resource in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa tri-state area for farmland owners hoping to connect with interested farmers regarding the transfer of land and farm businesses. If you would like to have your farm’s profile added to the transitions page please contact Bonnie Warndahl at or 612-462-9311.



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