Working with populations in the Bay Area of California that are often the most affected – but the least empowered – in the current food system, the Bay Area Farmer Training engages, educates, and empowers those who aspire to farm as a career but face substantial structural obstacles to do so.
Launched Spring 2016 as a partnership between MESA and Planting Justice, the Bay Area Farmer Training offers comprehensive learning, mentorship, and employment opportunities for new and beginning farmers to gain skills and knowledge in agroecology, food justice initiatives, local marketing, and cooperatives.
BAFT is the premier farmer training program for socially disadvantaged and limited-resource beginning farmers in the California Bay Area that offers accessible, comprehensive, and interactive training and employment opportunities in sustainable agriculture, while building upon the mentoring capacity of experienced farmers. Especially designed for immigrants, refugees, and formerly incarcerated individuals, BAFT aligns with MESA’s mission to decrease cultural and resource barriers for beginning farmers, to increase cross-cultural awareness and understanding among farmers and in society, and to increase agroecological practitioners and practices that revive local food systems oriented towards earth stewardship, equitable economies, and multicultural alliances.
We envision that over the long-term BAFT will increase pathways for socially disadvantaged and limited-resource beginning farmers to establish viable agricultural micro-enterprises and farmer cooperatives along the urban-to-rural spectrum by developing a network of farmer-mentors, host farms, entrepreneurs, and interconnected enterprises to support the sustained success and endurance of these new farm businesses. This includes incubating worker cooperative farms, an innovative model adopted by a handful of farms across North America. In the next 10 to 20 years, we aim to seed over 100 new farming businesses owned and operated by socially disadvantaged and limited-resource beginning farmers.
BAFT received financial support from a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2015. Contributions from MESA supporters ensures its continuity. Please consider making a donation to MESA to help make this program a success for the years to come.