Farming is hard work and to establish farm requires the overcoming of 4 main obstacles:
- LAND to farm on;
- TRAINING and MENTORING to become better at growing;
- Seed FUNDING to develop the farm and begin growing; and
- Establishing MARKETS for what is grown
Farm This Now! is NOFFN’s initiative that aims to connect New Orleanians who want to grow food with land in the city where they can garden or farm. We will do this improving the accessibility of publicly available information about vacant land in Orleans Parish, and by educating individuals and organizations about how they can lease or purchase this land.
We have developed a Google map that provides information on available vacant properties (Currently the map shows NORA properties and we are working to add other data sources including vacant land available for private purchase or lease.)
In addition, we have created a Farm This Now! Land Acquisition Handbook that outlines the various methods of acquiring land for farming – be it through a lease with a private landowner, purchase of land, NORA lease, etc.
- Beginning this fall (& again in Spring 2013), NOFFN and its partners are offering a New & Beginning Urban Farmers Training Program to offer urban growers interested in market farming education and training on: production/management strategies; important business management/decision-support strategies; marketing strategies; and legal matters relative to farming. We develop this to respond to the repeated requests from beginning urban for more comprehensive and organized training opportunities, particularly in innovative and eco-friendly approaches to farming, business planning, marketing and legal issues.
- Concurrently, NOFFN is developing a Farm Internship Program to help educate and develop new farmers. This program places new and beginning farmers in internships with experienced local and regional farmers to learn the skills needed to develop a successful farming business.
- NOFFN is cultivating a list of potential sources for New Farm Funding through foundations, USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and other sources.
- Finally, NOFFN along with its partners are developing a Market Guide for new farmers that will provide information to market farmers on: Product Lists; Pricing/Marketing; Best Handling & Food Safety Practices; Growing, Harvesting, Cleaning, Packaging, Storage & Shelf Life; Transportation & Food Hubs; Product Liability Insurance; and Capital Funding Sources.