Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

Know Your Food, Know Your Farmers USDA Map

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has put a lot of funding towards local and regional food system infrastructure and support services. To show off their work, they have a nifty little map tool which identifies the type of program, description, and funding amount: http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm. While definitely not all-inclusive, it’s pretty useful for finding awesome markets, co-ops, urban farms, wholesalers and distributors, and community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives.

So what if you wanted to start your own farm?

Well if you are new to farming and have no idea where to begin? Try Tufts amazing program, New Entry Sustainable Farmer Project, which assists people with limited resources who have an interest in small-scale commercial agriculture, to begin farming. They help you set up your business plan, get the loans and grants, grow the crops, and find the markets…every year for your first three years. Not enough? You can use your own private land or they will let you use theirs!

Ready to transition to your own small-scale farm? Try the Farmland Finder (only for New England properties right now): http://www.newenglandfarmlandfinder.org/search-properties-gateway.

Perhaps you are looking for something which is a little more high-intensity? Well stop floundering around and get into aquaculture! Half hydroponics, half fish-farming, aquaponics is perfect for dense urban areas and those underutilized brownfields. Jump right into it with the highly regarded University of the Virgin Islands Agricultural Experiment Station. Consider it an edu-cation down in St. Croix.

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