Alaska leads the nation in agricultural growth and there’s no sign of it slowing down. The average age of a producer in Alaska is two and a half years younger compared to the national average age. Moreover, Alaska leads the nation in the percent of new and beginning producers. Almost half – 46 percent – of the state’s farmers have 10 years or less experience on any farms.
With help and support from the Alaska Farmers Market Association we are launching a statewide network modeled after the National Young Farmers Coalition (www.youngfarmers.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to “…shift power and change policy to equitably resource our new generation of working farmers.” National Young Farmers Coalition is made up of farmer-led chapters, “groups that boost morale among new farmers, facilitate friendships and business partnerships, and offer an organizing platform for tackling barriers on the local, state, and national level.”
Some of you may not identify with the term “young” and that is why we are leading with “beginning” instead; but the two are nearly synonymous. Whether you’re actually young or young at heart- we are including all people who are kicking off a career in agriculture; from a first year farm apprentice to someone pursuing a midlife career change. Generally speaking, we define a beginning farmer as someone who is in the first 10 years of growing food for income and/or operating their own crop fields.
Join us for the FIRST Beginning & Young Farmers Network Meeting to hear more about the program, meet the project coordinator, and network with other new farmers around the state. Registration is free but REQUIRED to receive the Zoom link.