News From the Land Connection: Farm Beginnings

Sustainable Farmer Training Program Enters Its Tenth Year

The Land Connection has entered its tenth year of farmer training and is now accepting applications for its Central Illinois Farm Beginnings course, which begins in October. This year-long farmer training program includes over 70 hours of classroom instructions, free access to field days, and mentorship with successful farmers to help new farmers launch farm businesses that are economically viable and environmentally sustainable. 

"Whether you're interested in growing fresh fruits and vegetables for local markets, turkeys and geese for the holidays, or specialty grains for wholesale markets, The Land Connection staff, farmer-instructors, and farmer-mentors can help you jump-start your farm businesses," said The Land Connection's founder Terra Brockman. 

Since 2005, Central Illinois Farm Beginnings has graduated over 150 people interested in sustainable farming, over two-thirds of whom are currently farming to meet the growing demand for locally grown food. Last year, the class moved to a new location at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Champaign, where students have access to the knowledge and experience of the Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery staff, as well as high-quality in-class meals prepared by the farm's chef, Alisa Demarco. "Joining forces has allowed both entities to achieve their overlapping objectives to help build a new food system to supply high quality, healthy local foods to our communities in Central Illinois," said Wes Jarrell, co-owner of the farm.

Applications are now being accepted for 2014-2015 Central Illinois Farm Beginnings, and scholarships are available. For more information or to apply to the program, go to

"Farm Beginnings is about taking your farm dream and turning it into a reality," said Jeff Hake, The Land Connection's farmer training program manager who will facilitate the course. "We need more farmers in this country and, luckily, there are a lot of people who want to so do. Our role is to make sure they are ready to be successful farm business owners. We help establish farmer-to-farmer connections that have proven immensely successful, as we are able to pair farmers and students who have similar interestsThose connections often last far longer than the course itself and strengthen the farm enterprises of our students and the food system itself."

About The Land Connection:

The Land Connection is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting farmland, training sustainable farmers, and promoting a vibrant local food system. 


Jeff Hake
The Land Connection
(217) 840-2128
505 W University Ave, Suite 203
Champaign, IL 61821