There’s something going on in the Mohonk foothills: Glynwood’s Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator is officially open for business. According to Kathleen Frith, Glynwood’s president, the program will pair farm incubator graduates with available land — due, in part, to Glynwood’s partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI).
“While there are some farmer training programs available in the Hudson Valley for really beginning, new entry farmers — like apprenticeships, we have one here on our farm near Cold Spring,” Frith added, “there is really not a program that addresses training for farmers that are already experienced.”
Glynwood’s incubator hopes to attract farmers with roughly two years’ experience, who need help starting a farm of their own. It’ll pair them with farm field and business mentors, who will coach them on branding and sustainable agriculture.
“There’s so many barriers of entry to agriculture — land access, access to capital, the kind of business training I referenced,” she said. “So the logic is by having a program that really focuses on addressing those barriers, and really fosters and cultivates those new farm-based businesses, that … we’ll be able to fledge a new generation of farm-based businesses.”
Glynwood hopes to help get 15 new farms started within the next five years of the program.
Dave Llewellyn, the director of farm training, is the guy in charge of what those semi-experienced farmers will be learning at Glynwood’s incubator in New Paltz.
He compared an apprenticeship to a “farming 101” class. He said their incubator program is more like a 301 or 401 level college course — advanced farming.
“We’re augmenting things they may have learned after two or three years of apprenticing on a farm and helping develop skilled new farm businesses. They’d be coming onto the property and managing their own enterprises, where the profit or loss will lie with them,” Llewellyn said. “So they’ve got skin in the game.”
Glynwood’s incubator is on part of an 856-acre parcel owned by OSI. The incubator is on about 330 acres of that land. When it is at full capacity, up to nine farmers will live there.
For instance, in 2014 the non-profit plans to find two farmers, then two more in 2015 and then three each following year. Students graduating out of the program will be matched to properties — those which a land trust wants cultivated as a working farm.
That way, farmers end up with needed land and land preservation organizations like OSI can promote sustainable agriculture.
Tuition is $4,500 for those who plan to live on site at the incubator, but non-resident students would pay $1,500 per year. The program lasts for three years and students are expected to transition to their own farm business in year four.
Glynwood’s incubator is focused on animal husbandry, but students with plans for mixed produce and livestock production are also a target.
“This is something that is really critical for the future of the Hudson Valley. And that’s the goal — it’s about ensuring that the Hudson Valley maintains and grows its heritage of sustainable food production,” Frith said. “It’s important to our health on multiple levels. It’s important to our economic health. It’s important to our environmental health. It’s important to us as humans.”
Glynwood is cutting off its applications this year on June 30.
After they open — right now they’re building the soil, repairing farm infrastructure and buildings — they’ll invite the community onto the grounds for an open house.