What to Expect

rows of crops in one of the plots at Headwaters Farm

There are many unique aspects to working as a farmer in the Farm Incubator Program. Prospective incubator farmers should be familiar with the following:

Program Learning Objectives

It is not the Headwaters Incubator Program’s primary objective to provide farmer education. Qualified applicants will already have a strong grounding in what it takes to be a successful farmer. That said, EMSWCD will coordinate with program partners to put together agricultural learning opportunities for program participants. This will include workshops, classes, trainings, hands-on projects, and farm tours. They will be distributed throughout the year with emphasis given to exposing farmers to relevant learning experiences prior to seasonal need. Program participants will be expected to participate in all safety and equipment trainings, as well as attend appropriate workshops, classes, and tours. Incubator farmers will help identify priority learning objectives. The Headwaters Farm Program Manager will work with participants to set up times that best accommodate farmers’ schedules.

Safety and Equipment Trainings

New farmers will need to go through trainings prior to being cleared to use equipment. Trainings will be given to show proper techniques for cleaning and maintaining general farm tools. Additional safety trainings will be provided as needed.


EMSWCD strongly recommends interested applicants register for OSU Extension’s Growing Farms course . Scholarships may be available to individuals who live in the East Multnomah district. Contact Heidi Noordijk (Heidi.Noordijk at oregonstate dot edu) for more information on Growing Farms or scholarships.


Various partners will provide information on a number of relevant farm topics. A list of current partners can be found below.

Program Partners

The Headwaters Incubator Program works closely with a number of organizations, including:

Friends of Family FarmersFarmer offsite transitions (Oregon Farm Link); Outreach and advocacy
Oregon State University Extension ServicesGrowing Farms course; Workshops
USDA Natural Resource Conservation ServiceCost share; Resource management
Xerces SocietyPollinator habitat development
Zenger FarmCommercial kitchen; Potential access to local markets


Required Meetings

Communication is critical for smooth, efficient and safe operations at Headwaters Farm. To this end, the Headwaters Farm Program Manager will set up a number of mandatory farmer meetings throughout the year. Attention will be paid to the need for farmers to work in the fields during the height of the growing season.

Lease Agreement

All participants will sign a lease prior to entering each growing season. The lease will be a legally binding contract and cover issues pertaining to land allotment, payment, termination, and other pertinent issues.

Insurance Coverage

All farmers are required to carry at least a $1,000,000 general liability insurance policy that covers both their farm and products. Incubator farmers will provide EMSWCD with a Certificate of Liability Insurance that lists the District as ‘additionally insured.’ Current HIP farmers can make recommendations on affordable local plans and when it’s appropriate to carry a larger liability plan.

Water Usage

Incubator farmers will have access to a reasonable amount of water (as judged by EMSWCD). The Headwaters Farm Program Manager and program partners will work with farmers on determining the appropriate amount and timing of irrigation.

Food Safety Requirements

Food safety is a critical component of agricultural operations. Incubator farmers will need to ensure that their practices work to minimize contact and spreading of foodborne illness. EMSWCD will work with program partners to provide information on food safety and post-harvest food handling.

Record Keeping Requirements

Keeping accurate records of pertinent farm activities is an important farm skill. Program participants will be expected to keep records pertaining to yield, finances, and successes/failures, and provide requested data to EMSWCD at the end of each season. EMSWCD will not release this information, but instead use it to compile program statistics and accomplishments.

Community Farm Hours

As part of the program, incubator participants put in twelve human-hours each season toward the betterment of the incubator property and its facilities. This time could be front- or back-loaded in the season, and would be particularly useful for continued site development.

End of Season Responsibilities

Farmers will plant a winter cover crop in all appropriate areas of their allotted space—those not in active production—by October 1st. Each participant is also responsible for cleaning up their plot by this date. This includes removing all farm supplies, growing infrastructure, trash, and plant materials not incorporated into the soil. Approval from the Farm Incubator Manager is required if there is a need to leave items in the field past October 1st.

To help the continued improvement of Headwaters Farm Incubator Program and to assist the accumulation of incubator data, all incubator farmers will participate in an exit interview and fill out an end of season questionnaire.