CT NOFA is teaming up with the New CT Farmers Alliance (NCTFA) and Solid Ground 2  (UCONN Extension) to announce a new learning opportunity for beginner and advanced beginner farmers beginning in January, 2021.

Farmer Circles are peer-to-peer learning communities for farmers interested in sharing obstacles and strategies in a small, semi-structured, supportive environment. Each project year, farmers will join a circle focused on a topic or issue that interests them and explore this topic together. In addition to digging into a particular topic together, these circles will provide CT farmers with a social network that they can rely on to counter the stresses and risks of farming. The facilitator of each group will receive a stipend and have the chance to develop their skills as a group leader as they work with NCTFA and NOFA to create a successful learning environment.

Potential topics include:

  • Cooperative farming
  • Getting clear on farm financials
  • Farm equipment problem solving/management
  • Food sovereignty reading group
  • Accessing new markets
  • Finding and maintaining a strong farm crew
  • Self care for farmers
  • Crop planning
  • Regional affinity groups
  • BIPOC affinity groups
  • Queer affinity groups

Each circle will have about 5-8 members, and will choose their own preferred meeting style, whether in-person in a living room, barn, through field walks, or via video calls.

Farmer Circles are self governed groups, meaning that members will determine their time commitment and frequency of meetings. They will meet for at least 12 hours total over the year.

Each circle will choose one of their members as facilitator. This person will be point person to communicate with the Farmer Circle planning crew and will receive a stipend of $800.

Each circle will also have some funds to hire an expert advisor to join in on one of their meetings and provide practical expertise.

At the end of the year, all the circles will come together at the Build Your Network, Grow Our Future, an annual gathering, to share lessons learned and continue building an even broader network for all farmers involved. Though circles will formally meet for one year with support, they may choose to continue meeting on their own outside of defined year-long commitment.

Farmer Circles Planning Team:

  • NCTFA – coordinator & steering committee members
  • CT NOFA – co-coordinator
  • UConn Extension representatives
  • Representative of Young Farmer Committee
  • Advisory and Outreach team

Please reach out to info@ctnofa.org or newctfarmers@gmail.com with any questions or comments regarding this project.

This program is supported by the generosity of our members, donors and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2020-70017-32733 

Click here to register as a farmer circle participant or apply to be a facilitator.