Free workshops aim to connect beginning farmers with retiring farmers
DES MOINES — Three free, virtual workshops are planned over four days this week that are designed to connect beginning farmers with experienced farmers and landowners who are working toward farm succession.
Sally Worley, executive director of Practical Farmers of Iowa, says this is the group’s third annual Next Generation Summit. “There are a lot of aspiring farmers out there but land is one of their biggest barriers,” Worley says. “At the same time, there are a lot of people retiring from farming who are trying to figure out what to do to leave a legacy for their land that matches their goals. This series of workshops is trying to get at both of those things.”
Farming is often billed as being one of the nation’s most difficult and dangerous jobs, yet many young people continue gravitating toward agriculture as a career. “Farming isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of hard work, physically and mentally,” Worley says, “but farming is such a fulfilling career for people who are able to provide food to their communities and to care for the land.”
The first day of workshops is for farmland owners who are considering a transition, while the second day targets aspiring and beginning farmers to help them set goals, determine their farming purpose, and plan ways to acquire farmland. “A lot of people are seeking that kind of vocation,” Worley says. “It comes with a lot of challenges but it’s also not just a day job. It’s a passion for many people.”‘
The final workshop will zero in on networking opportunities to match up aspiring farmers and landowners. Worley says the aim is to connect all the generations that make farming possible and support those from the next generation. “This is our third year of doing this, but because of restrictions on in-person gatherings, we are doing this virtually, which brings with it some new opportunities including being able to bring in a speaker from Oregon,” Worley says. “We are super-excited about that and we have a lot of good, engaging things planned for these three days of workshops.”
The free workshops will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Pre-registration is required. Sign up here: practicalfarmers.org/next-generation-summit