ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — New Mexico Community Capital (NMCC) is introducing a new way to connect Native American farmers to Native consumers and larger non-Native markets. The Native Farmer in Residence program is a peer-to-peer based Native farmer training and support program based on delivering the tools and knowledge a farmer needs to enhance success.
Based on its highly successful Native Entrepreneur in Residence (NEIR) program, NMCC’s goals for this program include:
- Increased food sovereignty for Native individuals and tribes
- Enhanced community health via improved food choices
- Improved economic growth via better farming business practices
- Finding secure and diversified markets for sales of Native grown produce
With funding from the Native American Agricultural Fund (NAAF), the program launches in the first quarter of 2021, with the selection of a cohort of 20 individuals engaged in farming practices, from the micro-farm of 1 – 9 acres, and larger farms in the range of 40 – 60 acres. Training will take place over a one-year period at farms, in NMCC classrooms, and online as may be dictated by pandemic conditions.
NMCC’s training techniques are unique in that the organization works to preserve and protect Native traditions and values, while incorporating today’s digital learning techniques. Each participant receives a Chromebook loaded with a suite of Google business tools tailored to farming. Additionally, each participant is funded with a stipend for the purpose of investing in the needs of their farm. With experienced farmers on the NMCC staff, the program also brings Native farmers to training sessions to develop peer to peer training, and to begin to build a Native Farmer in Residence farmer network.
Curriculum includes: enterprise resource analysis; developing a whole farm plan; budgeting, record keeping, accounting/bookkeeping; finding new markets; and building a business plan.
In keeping with NAAF’s guidelines, the Native Farmer in Residence program is informed by multiple listening sessions to ensure a match with the farmers’ needs. Part of that work includes discussion of these points:
- What is the desired future for your farm?
- What are your values that are important to the growth of your farm?
- What currently exists in the way of resources – land, people, equipment, etc?
The Native Farmer in Residence Program is the outcome of earlier work done in the Native agriculture market segment and funded by USDA and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others.
Henry Jake Foreman
SOURCE New Mexico Community Capital