Sign up for News & Updates

Stateline Farm Beginnings

Now Accepting Applications for 2021

A farmer-led training and support program designed to help beginning farmers turn their dreams into attainable plans and launch sustainable farm businesses

Stateline Farm Beginnings® is a yearlong course designed to help launch or expand your farm business. Divided into three main components: Farm Dreams Intensive, Skill Building Practicum, Farm Business Intensive, you’ll receive over 60 contact hours of class time. Start in the winter by shaping your dream farm into a functional farm proposal and develop a personalized learning plan. In the spring and summer, you’ll work with a mentor in your specific areas of interest. Autumn will bring you back into the classroom, building a strategic farm business plan rooted in profitability and longevity, guiding your dreams into reality. Most sessions feature a farmer panel segment during which you’ll gain knowledge from some of the most innovative farmers and experts in the Midwest while creating lifelong friendships within a new farming network. Other presenters include an attorney, an accountant, Extension educators, USDA programs, insurance providers, a banker and others who provide important practical information.

Stateline Farm Beginnings® attracts both rural and urban participants from Chicago, Rockford, Milwaukee, Madison - and everywhere in between. We also encourage veterans to apply! The program has graduated nearly 300 sustainable farmers (read Graduate Profiles) in our region. 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 building food & farm economies that are green, fair, and healthy. Farm Beginnings® is approved as an educational provider through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Completion of this course fulfills the educational requirements for FSA loan applicants.


Stateline Farm Beginnings® has 3 Sessions:

  • Farm Dreams Intensive (January to March) focused on goal-setting, writing a mission & vision statement, marketing strategies, planning for profit, creating a personalized learning plan, and developing a farm proposal. New for 2021: Take this as a standalone course or as a part of the complete Stateline Farm Beginnings® program. 
  • Skill Building Practicum (March to October) Farms visits in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and the Chicagoland area during UM CRAFT Field Days. Participants are matched in a 1-to-1 mentorship with an experienced sustainable farmer in their field of interest. Arrangements are flexible, taking location, employment and family into account.
  • Farm Business Intensive (September to December) dive into budgeting, pricing strategies, completing and understanding financial statements, and developing a business plan. 

 Learn More & Apply

     Not ready to start a farm business?
    Consider joining Upper Midwest CRAFT, our farmer training alliance! 



    The Stateline Farm Beginnings program is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-49400-30072.

    Additional Partners and Funders: