Dozens of incubator farms are springing up around the country to nurture the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs.
The goal is to help farmers get started by using the incubator model that has been successful in launching new businesses. Farmers get a quarter-acre of land, shared equipment, mentoring on business planning and marketing, and the opportunity to build a track record that will help them qualify for start-up loans for their own farms.
The 10-acre farm of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming in Ithaca is in its second year as an incubator farm. It has three farmers this summer.
Jennifer Hashley of the National Farm Incubator Training Initiative at Tufts University says would-be farmers are able to gain experience and develop markets without high startup costs.