When you think about the “city that never sleeps,” agriculture is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. You may be surprised to learn that New York City is home to more than 150 farmers markets selling fresh food grown by more than 250 local producers. Farm Credit is helping these farm businesses succeed through a new partnership with local nonprofit GrowNYC.
GrowNYC manages Greenmarket Farmers Markets, which provide direct-to-consumer marketing opportunities for small family farms in and around New York City, while ensuring access to fresh, local food for New York City residents. GrowNYC also focuses on ensuring Greenmarket farmers have the financial skills and technical assistance they need through its FARMroots Program, which supports both established and beginning Greenmarket farmers. Farm Credit East recently donated $12,500 to FARMroots, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by CoBank to total $25,000 for beginning farmer education.
“GrowNYC is extremely grateful for the support of Farm Credit East and CoBank,” said Marcel Van Ooyen, President and CEO of GrowNYC. “This funding will help us further develop programming and assist more aspiring and established Greenmarket farmers alike with training designed to enhance the long-term viability of their farms.”
FARMroots targets a wide range of producers for participation in its Farm Beginnings class, including immigrant farmers with agricultural experience from their home countries, New York City urban farmers hoping to grow their operations, individuals coming to farming as a second career and landowners who want to start an agricultural business.
Program participants learn about farm succession and land transfer, financial and business planning, legal assistance, strategic marketing, food safety, risk management and how to access capital. They also receive mentorship from experienced farmers, access to field days and workshops, as well as three years of one-on-one technical assistance following their graduation from the course.
"The Farm Beginnings class was one of the most insightful experiences I've had so far on my path to farming. I've taken other new farmer courses, and the New Farmer Development Project NFDP was the most helpful by far in terms of teaching whole farm planning, holistic management and developing a financially viable farm plan that acknowledges real world realities,” said Arian Rivera, a 2012 graduate of the program.
“GrowNYC is an important marketing channel for many Farm Credit East members to gain access to the New York City market,” said Farm Credit East CEO Bill Lipinski. “Farm Credit East is also committed to supporting the next generation of agriculture, so this contribution aligns with our mission to serve agriculture today and tomorrow.”
“Agriculture is a tremendously rewarding career, but for those who haven’t grown up in the industry, there is a lot to learn. We hope our support of GrowNYC and the FARMroots program will not only provide new farmers with vital education and access to important markets, but will also provide consumers with easy access to affordable, regionally produced food,” said Will Baildon, regional vice president at CoBank.