Practical Farmers of Iowa has exceeded its $75,000 goal for the "100 Days, 100 Beginners" campaign, allowing the organization to serve the 1,500 beginning farmers in its network with robust programming for 2014 and beyond.
"We are so pleased with the response," says PFI executive director Teresa Opheim. "So far 226 people contributed in amounts ranging from $15 to $10,000—and more is coming in all the time. The show of support for beginning farmers and for this organization has been heart-warming."
The successful fundraising effort will allow Practical Farmers to match beginners with farmer mentors and offer "farminars" (webinars), retreats and field days specifically tailored for them. In addition, PFI will be able to continue to offer a website matching landowners with those beginners seeking farmland (http://www.findafarmer.net/), and a popular Savings Incentive Program (SIP) for beginning farmers.
Successful fundraising effort will allow PFI to match beginning farmers with established farmers who are mentors
Enrollees in SIP develop or fine-tune a business plan, meet with a mentor and attend PFI events to help build their community of support. At the end of the two-year program, their savings is matched up to $2,400 to purchase a farm asset.
PFI beginning farmer programming is popular. Julie Slocum, who just started farming near Boone: "I don't know if I'd be pursuing this farming dream if I hadn't met Practical Farmers." Jordan Scheibel, who farms near Grinnell, adds: "I feel much stronger with PFI behind me. I can't say enough for what this organization has done for me."
Among the larger contributors to the 100 Days, 100 Beginners campaign was Grain Millers, Inc., a leading supplier and manufacturer of non-genetically modified and organic whole grains and whole grain ingredients used in many food products served both domestically and around the world. For information, go to the Grain Millers, Inc. website. According to the company: "Grain Millers believes that the vision and objectives stated by PFI fit very well with our own sustainability objectives, as well as our desire to promote long-term production of diversified crop production in Iowa."
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in the network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For information call (515) 232-5661 or visit the PFI website. For more on the PFI beginning farmer network, contact Luke Gran, Next Generation Coordinator, at [email protected] or 515/232-5661.