Farm Beginnings

2023-2024 Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings Program starts in Oct 2023!

Applications will be available in late 2023.

Enrollment begins Oct 2023!

Grow Your Farm

If interested in the program, please reach out to for additional details.

Course Details:

What is it?

This year, Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings (SIFB) is offering a special year-long program open to anyone wanting to engage in sustainable, entrepreneurial farming. The program provides education and technical assistance for new and beginning farmers and ranchers with less than 10 years of experience. SIFB supports farmer development in three ways:

1. Seminars focused on your holistic farm vision, financial management, and marketing (Online and in-person meetings, as conditions permit. Support is available to help with online access).
2. On-farm field days and online meetings with experienced farmers, exploring on-the-ground sustainable farming practices
3. One-on-one mentorship with a successful farmer ​

This course includes:

- Crafting a detailed plan for your farm enterprise
- 56 hours of seminar time on business and marketing, much of it with established farmers
- Classroom and on-farm sessions developing skills in specialty crops, humane animal husbandry, and a special section on accessing land and resources.
- On-farm field days and workshops
- Course books and materials
- Connection to established sustainable farmers interested in helping you succeed
- One year membership to the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance

Through Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings, 
you will be able to:

- Articulate your values and goals into a vision and mission statement for your farm business
- Formulate short- and long-term farming goals
- Craft a detailed plan for your farm enterprise
- Learn critical farm management skills such as financing and marketing strategies
- Tap into the knowledge of innovative and skilled farmers in Southern Illinois
- Access opportunities for land and equipment use and/or rental
- Receive mentoring from a farmer engaged in a similar enterprise
- Develop important connections with beginning and experienced farmers
- Make personal contact with a wide range of Illinois professionals that support small-scale local farmers, including USDA specialists, bankers, farmers market managers, reporters, and attorneys


Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings includes 56 seminar hours on business, farming and marketing skills. These classes run from November 2023 through July 2024. In 2023-2024, most classes meet on Monday from 6pm to 8pm, with some variability for on farm sessions and guest speakers. More information is available upon request.


A key factor for beginning farmers is learning from those who have the knowledge and experience in the field or on the ranch. An important part of the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings program is pairing up beginning and transitioning growers with mentors.
Participants in the program will be paired up with successful growers in a similar field.

Field Days

Field Days are hosted by the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance. Farm Beginnings trainees receive a one year membership and will attend 6-8 on farm Field Days and workshops in 2024.

Apply to Farm Beginnings

Application Guidelines:
1. Up to two people in the same family or business can attend Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings® under one tuition payment. If two people intend to take the course together, please identify one person as the Primary Applicant.

2. Applications are due October 1, 2023.

3. To apply, please send your completed application to OR mail to: Food Works, P.O. Box 3855 Carbondale, IL 62902.

4. Regular tuition for the 2023-24 program is $450. Three to twelve-month payment plan options and scholarships are available. We’ll make every effort to work with qualified applicants.

5. All Applicants will have a phone, Zoom, or in-person interview with one of the program facilitators. Following the interview you will be notified immediately of your status with the program.
Special scholarships are available for the 2023-2024 program! Contact us to learn more.

Questions or interested in an application? Please reach out to program facilitator Jennifer Duensing at

Farm Beginnings Information Request

How did you hear about Farm Beginnings?(Required)
Food Works is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable food economy in Southern Illinois.
Food Works
PO Box 3855
Carbondale, IL 62901
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