Headwaters Farm Incubator Program is designed to assist in the development of new farmers. The program involves leasing out sections of EMSWCD’s Headwaters Farm to motivated, skilled individuals who will use it as a launching pad for their own farming endeavors.
Why is EMSWCD Interested in a Farm Incubator?
Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the nation have been helping farmers for over 70 years. Typically, this work has focused on improving topsoil and water quality. However, one of the increasingly problematic threats to agriculture — both here in East Multnomah and across the nation — is the aging farmer population and the lack of qualified, experienced, and skilled individuals ready to take the helm and responsibly manage America’s farmland.
This breakdown isn’t due to a lack of interest locally, as indicated by the high demand for the Beginning Urban Farmers Apprenticeship program and other entry-level farmer learning opportunities. Instead, the lack of new-farmer preparedness stems from a combination of institutional, cultural, and financial barriers which greatly inhibit the development of new farmers and farm businesses. These barriers commonly consist of a lack of access to:
- Farm equipment and infrastructure
- Well established farm networks and support systems
- Agricultural training
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District seeks to use Headwaters Farm as a launching pad for farm businesses by providing the resources necessary to helping farmers overcome these barriers. And, in doing so, help keep good farmland in production while adding to the diversity of the local “farmscape.”