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Stateline Farm Beginnings

Stateline Farm Beginnings is a course designed to help launch or expand your farm business. Students learn sustainable farming practices used on real farms, develop a tailor-made farming/business plan, and begin to view the farm as an interconnected system. Students also gain knowledge from some of the most innovative farmers and experts in the Midwest, and create lifelong friendships within a new farming network. Stateline Farm Beginnings also offers opportunities to access land and equipment.

Stateline Farm Beginnings attracts both rural and urban participants from Chicago, Rockford, Milwaukee, Madison - and everywhere in between! We also encourage veterans to apply! Since 2005, graduates of Stateline Farm Beginnings have launched more than 55 new sustainable farms. Read our Stateline Farm Beginnings Graduate Profiles to learn more about these farms. 

Stateline Farm Beginnings is part of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative. The Farm Beginnings model is emerging as the most effective way to increase the number of beginning farmers who are building food and farm economies that are green, fair, and healthy. Farm Beginnings is approved as an educational provider through the Farm Service Agency (FSA)! Completion of the course fulfills the educational requirements for FSA loan applicants.

Stateline Farm Beginnings has three main components:

  • Winter Course Sessions (October to March) focus on goal-setting, planning for profit, marketing & pricing strategies, and developing a business plan. 
  • Field Day Workshops (January to October) are hosted at sustainable farms in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and Chicagoland area.
  • One-On-One Mentorships (April to September) are carefully matched with a successful sustainable farmer in your field of interest. Arrangements are flexible, taking location, employment and family into account. Students may be paid, depending on the agreement between mentor and mentee.

Apply & Learn More!

Not ready to start a farm business? Join our farmer network!

Consider joining Upper Midwest CRAFT! We offer memberships for both farms and those interested in farming. Members get first notification when the Stateline Farm Beginnings application period begins each summer.


For more information on our program, or to receive notifications about future Stateline Farm Beginnings courses, contact Sheri Doyel, Program Facilitator, at 815-389-8455 or by email. Not in our area? Check out Farm Beginnings Programs in Illinois or national programs at