The Stone Barns Regenerative Farming Fellowship (RFF) provides medium-scale farmers seeking to transition to regenerative farming practices with education, a supportive peer network, and the inspiration, leadership and advocacy skills they need to bring about structural change.
The United States faces a farming crisis. More than half of our farmers are at retirement age. Farmers over the age of 65 outnumber those under 35 at a rate of more than 6:1. Farmers have been asked to produce more and more while facing a long and growing list of challenges, including low prices and tariffs, increasingly devastating and unpredictable weather events, decreased soil fertility, topsoil loss, and more.
Many next-generation farmers, including those working at medium scale, are looking for ways to secure their families’ future and ensure their land is productive for generations to come. But taking the first steps toward this goal requires answers to many challenging questions – what would it look like to implement regenerative practices? How much will it cost, and what are the economics? How can I engage others in my community to embrace similar practices, or convince federal or state leaders to update policies that are standing in the way? How do I stay on the right path?
As a nation we must empower a new generation of farmers to take the helm and embrace resilient practices that protect farmland and ecosystems while producing the food we rely upon. Rapid scaling of regenerative practices is critical to helping farmers improve their farm viability while caring for soils and farmland.
The Stone Barns Regenerative Farmer Fellowship is geared specifically to meeting the needs of medium-scale farmers whose transition to regenerative practices would have significant impact on the health of farms and farmland. The Fellowship, which is being piloted in 2019, is developed and programmed by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in partnership with the National Young Farmers Coalition and Arizona State University, with generous support from the General Mills Foundation.
Fellows will enjoy rich, in-depth content and programming to support their commitment to transitioning farmland to regenerative agriculture, including:
- A specialized track within the framework of Stone Barns Center’s annual Young Farmers Conference geared toward their needs
- Skill building and support around the transition to regenerative practices
- Leadership development training
- Cohort-based fellowship that extends beyond the duration of the program
- Exploration of the role of food and cuisine in developing an agricultural plan, and prioritizing food within a farming operation
- Advocacy training and policy education, with the goal of empowering farmers to navigate policy and advocate for their needs in their communities and beyond
- The opportunity to speak with elected officials about policies to support beginning farmers and regenerative agriculture
- Behind-the-scenes look at business and operational mechanisms including supply chain, marketing, sales, planning, and culinary applications
- Access to a network of mentors and experts in the regenerative farming and culinary fields
- Sessions on marketing and storytelling to create a narrative for a transition process and differentiation in the marketplace
The farmers who will benefit most from RFF meet the following criteria:
- Have been a farm owner, operator, manager or in a leadership position for 2-10 years
- Produce grains, oilseed, pulses, vegetables, fruit, livestock, hay and/or grasses
- Oversee a medium-scale farm operation (gross annual sales $150-$999k)
- Most likely work in the Midwest or Great Plains/Northern Plains (i.e., Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming); farmers working in other states who meet other criteria are also strongly encouraged to apply
- Plan to transition operations to regenerative practices or are advancing principles from among the following categories: (1) minimizing soil disturbance, (2) maximizing crop diversity, (3) keeping the soil covered, (4) maintaining living root year round, (5) integrating livestock
December 3-12, 2019: New York and Washington, D.C.
April 6-9, 2020: Minneapolis, MN
The Regenerative Farming Fellowship begins at the annual Stone Barns Young Farmers Conference in Pocantico Hills, NY on December 3-6, 2019. Fellows will continue their stay at Stone Barns through December 9th for further in-depth programming featuring experts in the fields of sustainable food and farming from across the Stone Barns campus and from outside organizations. In addition, Fellows will be introduced to leaders from the National Young Farmers Coalition and General Mills teams who will remain involved throughout the Fellowship experience.
From Stone Barns Center, the cohort will travel to Washington, D.C. for a three-day intensive leadership and advocacy training. This training will be delivered by the National Young Farmers Coalition in partnership with Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, former USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. Fellows will have the opportunity to meet and share their experiences with Members of Congress and USDA officials during this visit.
Finally, the cohort will gather for three days at the General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis, MN in early April for an opportunity to share with and learn from industry experts on topics including food supply chain, R&D, marketing and sales.
Up to eight applicants will be selected for the 2019 Regenerative Farming Fellowship cohort. Fellows are required to fully participate in the 10-day winter residency at Stone Barns and in Washington, D.C., as well as the spring meeting in Minneapolis. Program days are very full. Two conference calls between the in-person gatherings are also required.
In addition to full participation in each of the in-person gatherings and conference calls, Fellows must be open to taking part in regional and national press opportunities, including press releases, social media, and interviews with journalists, to share their work and further the mission of the program.
Participants will receive a $1,500 stipend in addition to travel, room and board for the program components.
Housing and transportation during the course of the program will be provided, and is only available for participants; unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate additional family members.
Applications are due by 11:59pm ET on August 7.