Land access is a major hurdle for beginning farmers nationwide - and Indiana landowners are struggling to find a new generation of farmers to steward the land they love. PIFF has applied for funding from NCR-SARE to gather stakeholders for a year of conversation - followed by a year of action - about farmland preservation, farmland access, and farmland succession. Our hope is to learn from what’s working in other states, and then adapt those lessons to Indiana. Stay tuned!
We’re Midwesterners, so we don’t always like to talk about money - but it’s critical to have frank, open conversations about farm finances and business development. PIFF wants to make these conversations normal, hopeful, and regular…because we can only keep farming if we can make a living farming.
We’re integrating farm viability discussions into all of our field days and workshops, and hosting some field days focused entirely on this topic. Check out our upcoming events, as well as our resources page for tutorials, webinars, and books to spur the farm viability conversation on your farm.
As we launch PIFF, we’re taking time to listen to underheard farmers and food system advocates. We want to see if and how PIFF can try to serve these Hoosiers’ needs, and work alongside them for a stronger food system in Indiana.
In 2022, we hosted focus groups with women farmers; Black farmers, Indigenous farmers, and farmers of Color; and organic/transitioning grain farmers. We asked how their identities strengthened their farms, where they go to learn, what obstacles they’re facing, and more. Their insights will help shape field days, events, and programs that support diversified farmers in Indiana. Participants received $50 for their contributions, and the chance to connect with their peers.
We’re brainstorming what “affinity groups” we should reach out to in 2023. This could be based on topic, demographics, geography, or other unifying forces. We’ve pondered gathering food banks/pantries integrating local food; older landowners seeking to transfer land to beginning farmers; land seekers; urban farmers; food council members; and others. We’d like to hear your ideas! Email us your focus group suggestions at email@example.com.
FOOD SYSTEM LEADERS
PIFF wants to serve Indiana’s food system leaders - but we’re still figuring out how to do this. Food systems are complex, and we know that we must move at the speed of trust. We’ve started building connections, but we don’t want to rush into this critical work. In 2023, we will use our strategic planning process and our Focus Groups to identify ways that PIFF can help serve food system leaders. Many of you are already working hard to improve Indiana’s food system. We hope to support you, encourage collaboration and cross pollination, and help fill in any gaps that exist.
In the Fall of 2021, we surveyed farmers ahead of our organizational launch. When we asked about what programs or events farmers wanted (field days, an apprenticeship program, etc.), the #1 thing that farmers asked for was a mentorship program. We listened. Thanks to grant support from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, PIFF and the Hoosier Young Farmers Coalition are piloting a mentorship program in 2023 and 2024. We’ll start accepting applications for Mentors and Mentees soon. Here’s a teaser on how the program will work:
Mentors and mentees both receive a $1,000 stipend to help cover their time engaging as well as travel to four in-person events. For mentors, this includes a half-day training on how to be a strong mentor.
The mentorship program includes regular interactions for the mentor/mentee pair, including:
A kick-off event and a closing event with all 10 mentor/mentee pairs. Both events will be hosted on a farm in central Indiana, including a farm tour, potluck, and time to get to know each other and reflect on the mentorship experience.
A visit to the mentor’s farm.
A visit to the mentee’s farm.
Five virtual conversations via phone/zoom that dive into key topics.
The chance to ask questions in real time, as the season progresses, via text/email.
We are creating a workbook to guide the virtual conversations, including reflections to prepare for the week’s topic and prompts to facilitate the actual mentor-mentee conversation. Each pair can tailor the curriculum to fit their mentee’s needs and the mentor’s experience.
Interested in being a Mentor or Mentee? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the applications as soon as they are posted.