Learning How to Farm
Gaining the production skills you need to develop a profitable operation takes time. There is a lot you need to know – soil management, plant biology, pest management, animal health, rotation strategies, weather and climate, equipment, water systems, etc. And there are many ways to gain this knowledge – reading, watching videos and webinars, taking classes, attending farm tours, and best of all, getting hands-on experience by working on a farm.
Print and Online Factsheets
Factsheets and books on soil management and production information for specific agricultural crops, horticultural crops, and livestock can be found at these sites.
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension Publications
- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) Factsheets
- National Center for Appropriate Technology (ATTRA) Publications
Videos and Webinars
Webinars are online seminars. You can participate in them live, or alternatively, many organization record webinars and them make them available online for later viewing. The following sites list videos and webinars on a variety of crop, livestock, and other farming topics.
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension YouTube Channel
- eOrganic webinars (hosted on eXtension)
- Northeast Beginning Farmers Project videos
- Vermont New Farmer Project webinars
- National Center for Appropriate Technology (ATTRA) videos
- Practical Farmers of Iowa webinars
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Beginning Farmer Short Courses — short courses are offered each winter/early spring in a number of areas in the state. Contact your county Extension office for information.
MOFGA Farm Apprenticeships – MOFGA’s Farm Apprenticeship program connects people wanting to learn organic farming with experienced farmers willing to share their expertise. The typical arrangement involves an exchange of labor for room, board, a stipend, and informal, intensive training and experience in farming.
Advanced Training Programs
MOFGA Journey Person Program – MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program provides hands-on support, training, and mentorship for people who are serious about pursuing careers in organic farming in Maine. The program is designed to fill the continuing education gap between apprentice and independent farmer, and to provide the resources and opportunities for prospective new farmers who have completed an apprenticeship to further develop the skills they need to farm independently and successfully.
University of Maine Sustainable Agriculture Undergraduate Program – The University of Maine offers a Bachelors of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture (SAG). This interdisciplinary program is offered cooperatively by the faculties of the Departments of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences; Biology; and Resource Economics and Policy. The SAG program emphasizes the principles and practices of environmentally sound, profitable farming through coursework and hands-on opportunities. In addition to the core courses, students obtain knowledge and skills in the liberal arts, mathematics, sciences, and communications.
Academic Training Programs
Unity College – The Sustainable Agriculture major is designed to prepare students for careers in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The sustainable agriculture program at Unity College emphasizes small-scale, local, sustainable agriculture, blending applied knowledge of plants and soils, the context of environmental change, and skills necessary to problem solve and advocate for the role of agriculture in building healthy communities.
Kennebec Valley Community College – The Sustainable Agriculture program provides students with both the technical and small business skills needed to manage or develop a small farm or agricultural business. The course work will utilize a problem solving approach to engage students in solving complex real world problems presented by local members of the industry. Students will expand their knowledge and hone their skills in sustainable farm principles and practices by participating in a summer internship at the college’s farm or local agricultural business. The two year curriculum includes classes in soil, plant and animal science, crop production, integrated pest management, farm infrastructure and sustainable livestock management. Business courses include agricultural marketing, accounting and small business. Graduates are awarded an Associate in Applied Science degree.
Who to Contact for Direct Assistance
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension or call 1.800.287.0274
- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) or call 207.568.4142