Farm Beginnings

2024-2025 Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings Program

Enrollment is Open!

For questions or more information on Farm Beginnings or other farming programs, please reach out to program facilitator Jennifer Duensing at [email protected] or fill out the form below. 

Click to Apply to the 2024-2025 Program
Application deadline September 1st, 2024

Course Details:

What is it?

This year, Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings (SIFB) is offering a special year-long program open to anyone wanting to engage in sustainable, entrepreneurial farming. The program provides education and technical assistance for new and beginning farmers and ranchers with less than 10 years of experience. SIFB supports farmer development in three ways:

  1. Seminars focused on your holistic farm vision, financial management, and marketing (Online and in-person meetings, as conditions permit. Support is available to help with online access).
  2. On-farm field days and online meetings with experienced farmers, exploring on-the-ground sustainable farming practices
  3. One-on-one mentorship with a successful farmer

This course includes:

  • Crafting a detailed plan for your farm enterprise
  • Business and marketing planning and development
  • Classroom and on-farm sessions developing skills in specialty crops, humane animal husbandry, and a special section on accessing land and resources. The program also includes optional sessions on developing a Cottage Foods enterprise on the farm.
  • On-farm field days and workshops
  • Course books and materials
  • Connection to established sustainable farmers interested in helping you succeed
  • One year membership to the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance

Through Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings, 
you will be able to:

  • Articulate your values and goals into a vision and mission statement for your farm business
  • Formulate short- and long-term farming goals
  • Craft a detailed plan for your farm enterprise
  • Learn critical farm management skills such as financing and marketing strategies
  • Tap into the knowledge of innovative and skilled farmers in Southern Illinois
  • Access opportunities for land and equipment use and/or rental
  • Receive mentoring from a farmer engaged in a similar enterprise
  • Develop important connections with beginning and experienced farmers
  • Make personal contact with a wide range of Illinois professionals that support small-scale local farmers


Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings includes Seminars focused on your holistic farm vision, financial management, and marketing. More information is available upon request.


A key factor for beginning farmers is learning from those who have the knowledge and experience in the field or on the ranch. An important part of the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings program is pairing up beginning and transitioning growers with mentors.
Participants in the program will be paired up with successful growers in a similar field.

Field Days

Field Days are hosted by the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance. Farm Beginnings trainees receive a one year membership and will attend 6-8 on farm Field Days and workshops in 2024.

For more information or questions about this year's program, please fill out the form below. 

Farm Beginnings Information Request

How did you hear about Farm Beginnings?(Required)
Food Works is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable food economy in Southern Illinois.
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