|Making connections! So many great stories came out of the National Farm Link Clinic. It was great to share and learn together. Such amazing programs helping farmers!
Nationally, over 50 farm link programs deliver a range of services to help connect farm seekers with exiting farmers and non-farming landowners.
Representatives from 26 farm link programs from across the country attended the first national farm link clinic in St. Louis in April 2-3, hosted by Land For Good. The clinic’s purposes were to improve the performance and effectiveness of farm link programs, and to share what works with other current and future farm link programs.
What is a farm link program? What is a “match”? What is success?
At the two-day event, practitioners enthusiastically tackled these questions. We explored the full range of farm link programming which typically includes a property posting website feature. Most programs do more, such as educational programs, 1:1 advising, and property assessment. Some facilitate transactions between parties.
Clinic participants shared about their activities and resources. We dove into data management, funding, outreach, branding, staffing, metrics and evaluation. We went from the big picture (land access and transfer challenges) to technical details such as comparing platform features for online property postings and seeker profiles. We left no stone unturned!
Hearing from other practitioners and thought leaders, “Tackling the big questions” and “talking logistics” were oft-cited as valuable for attendees. Many wanted more clinics, and other opportunities to share resources.
I think it was one of the most effective structures of a clinic/small conference that led to very productive and engaging conversations about metrics and evaluating ‘success’ of these programs. It also highlighted some of the ‘better’ practices regarding functionalities of websites/technologies/automation that programs are utilizing. Thank you!
Please let’s do this again!”
Each participant committed to making at least one improvement to his or her program which LFG will track. For example, several programs will streamline their online posting services or tune up their evaluation procedures. One will “completely redo [their] definitions;” another will “build a whole new website!”
LFG compiled learnings and successful practices into a guide for practitioners and advocates, Developing and Strengthening Farm Link Programs (or print version). The clinic affirmed the importance of farm link programs, their variety and their challenges.
Thank you to our funders! This clinic was offered through the Land Access Project, Phase 3 (LAP3) that is working to improve and expand services to help more beginning farmers access farmland. LAP3 is supported by a grant from the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (NIFA #2018-70017-28531). With special thanks to a generous, anonymous individual donor who provided funds to offer travel scholarships.
Thank you to those who attended!
American Farmland Trust
Athens Land Trust
Colorado Land Link
Columbia Land Conservancy
Countryside Farmers Market
Farm Link Montana
Iowa State University Beginning Farmers Network
The Land Connection
NW MI Food and Farming Network
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
New England Farm Link Collaborative
New England Farmland Finder
New Jersey Department of Agriculture
Northwest Arkansas Land Trust
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
Oregon Farm Link
PCC Farmland Trust
Renewing the Countryside
Sustainable Iowa Land Trust – SILT
Vermont Land Link
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