Toolkit for starting a great farm mentorship program

Farm educators can find templates to connect beginning farmers with mentors.

The Toolkit to Create a Great Farm Mentorship is a shared drive of resources for farm educators who want to start a mentorship program. Highlights include the full SARE grant proposal, signup forms, training agendas, evaluation surveys, program results. The video tour of the toolkit would be a smart place for educators to start if they are interested in farmer mentorships. Resources in the Beginning Farmer Mentee Resources and the Aspiring Farmer Mentee Resources folders would be useful for both farmers and educators. The toolkit includes numerous ready-to-use files but is completely open source to allow educators to easily download and edit items as needed.

The toolkit was developed as part of the Michigan Sustainable Farm Mentors Program that connected 42 beginning and aspiring farmers with nine mentors. Beginning farmers are paired for one-on-one time with an experienced farm mentor and a peer for about 5 hours each. This time can be used to describe their farms and to discuss topics like financial viability, environmental sustainability, soils, work-life balance and community connections or any questions the new farmer has.

Aspiring farmers meet with one-on-on with their mentors for about 2 hours to discuss how to access land and funds to start their farms and where they can learn farming and business skills to improve their chance of success. They also meet with an aspiring farmer peer to discuss similar issues. Mentors and mentees are both paid for their time to make the program accessible for all.

The drive includes a full table of contents listing every document. Below is a simplified table of contents with links to each folder.

Toolkit to Create a Great Farm Mentorship

Although SARE funding for this program runs from 2021 to March of 2023, Michigan Sustainable Farm Mentors will continue under a new USDA program to support farmers transitioning to organic. Please reach out to Katie Brandt at if you would like to learn more about Michigan Sustainable Farm Mentors or the Toolkit.

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number 2020-38640-31522 through the North Central Region SARE Partnership grant program, under project number ONC21-085. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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