The face of farming in America is changing. Today, women, people of color, those from low resource backgrounds, members of marginalized communities, and urban growers are putting down roots on rural farmland and pioneering successful, sustainable agricultural businesses.

For many New Yorkers, newfound interest and empowerment in this field can be traced to the Beginning Farmer Program , which is offered through FARMroots . The program recognized the need of new immigrants who came to NYC from strong food traditions and agricultural backgrounds who had the desire to start their own farms but lacked resources and support. Students get their hands dirty at operating farms in the region like alumni-run Rise and Root Farm just over an hour outside of the city.

The skills workshop series held in the spring and summer gets urbanites out of the city and in touch with real farmers; providing on-farm experience in everything from tractor operation to soil fertility and flower production. Not only do students learn core skills necessary to run their own farms one day; they also get to see what that actually looks like, an experience which serves as both a reality check and an inspiration.

Following the completion of the Beginning Farmer portion of the program, students are then matched with an established farmer-mentor for a 200-hour shoulder-to-shoulder mentorship plan and offered three years of ongoing technical assistance and educational opportunities. To date, the Beginning Farmer Program has graduated over 300 students and started close to 80 farm businesses across a 7-state region, putting more farmers on the land and more fresh food on our tables.

Music: Idea by Kai Engel