Seeding on the Farm

Farmer Assistance

Support, training, and increased market access for beginning, local, sustainable farmers.

We believe that food is medicine -- medicine for our bodies, our community, and our planet. But in order for this to be possible, we need to support our farmers who grow this incredible food! It’s essential that our local farms are healthy, biodiverse, and supported by the community.

 

The GoFarm Incubator trains and mentors aspiring farmers and breaks down barriers of entry into farming careers. We provide access to land, infrastructure, technical assistance, classroom curriculum, and mentorship. The program includes three tracks for aspiring farmers: Apprenticeships, Internships, and Externships.

The apprenticeship is a two-year program where apprentice farmers manage their own farm plot and are taught how to develop and manage their own farm business from the ground up. They receive comprehensive classroom curriculum (including lessons on business planning, crop planning, farm management, technical skills, financial management, etc.), as well as access to farmland, farmer mentorship, and sales outlets. After graduating from the program, we help apprentices establish their own independent, sustainable farms outside of the program.

The internship lasts for one summer season. Interns gain farming experience by assisting apprentices and existing farmers in the fields. They also gain exposure to many aspects of the local food system including buying, distributing, and marketing.

The externship lasts for one winter season. Externs enroll in classroom curriculum and learn about what's needed to create a viable farm business. We assist them in developing their own business and management plan for a future career in agriculture.

The GoFarm Incubator focuses on supporting veterans who are interested in a career in farming. We partner with the Denver Botanic Gardens - Chatfield to recruit veterans into the program and ensure this community is being reached. The GoFarm Incubator is run in partnership with Jefferson County Conservation District, Denver Botanic Gardens, Sprout City Farms, and CSU-Extension.

Applications for the incubator program open in August/September each year. We will update this page when applications for the following session become available.

Request for Applications (RFA) for a Farmer Training Center

We are excited to release this RFA for farmland (3-10 acres) to establish a farmer training center for our incubator program, that includes food production, an educational hub, and a retail farm stand. We welcome proposals from landowners and land managers of private and public land located in Jefferson County, CO. 

 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until a plot of land has been secured. We are working quickly to locate the right land for our training center, and thus preference will be given to those who apply by the end of October 2020.

Meet Our Incubator Participants!

Apprentices


Jess Neztel - Netzel Farm Jessica is a Certified Nurse Midwife, USAF Veteran, and farmer. The Veterans to Farmers program is where she fell in love with farming. The similarities of the cycle of life of plants and humans intrigued her. The science and therapeutic elements of farming allowed Jessica to be both challenged and at peace. She's worked at several farms and decided to start Netzel Farms with the encouragement of friends and family. Her mission is to bring joy to people by supporting overall health and quality of life through selling fresh, organic, nutritious, delicious produce. Shannon Harker - Western Flora Co Shannon started growing as a young child with her grandmother and mother. She moved to Denver in 2013 and learned all about small-scale ag through her three seasons as Farm Manager at The GrowHaus. Her background is in landscape architecture, floriculture, hydroponics, and social justice. She's an active member of the local farmers union, working on land access issues and local food policy. As an apprentice, she's learning all about regenerative agriculture and growing armloads of snapdragons and rainbow chard - two of her favorite crops. Ashley Garfias - Paper Kite Farm Ashley Garfias is a Denver Native who is passionate about farming, animal welfare, and social justice. She developed a special interest in food access and seed rights while studying sociology at CU Boulder, and first became connected to urban agriculture in 2014 through a farm internship with Re:Vision in Denver. She began growing food in her backyard to provide for her family, friends, and neighbors while learning about Denver's local agriculture scene. After spending time working and volunteering on local farms in Denver and Lakewood, Ashley is excited to start a business that allows her to play in the dirt while addressing the needs of her community and the health of the land! Steven Wilde - Sunnyside Farms Steven Wilde began farming Heirloom tomatoes in September 2019. He joined forces with Jon Rodrigues on an existing 5,000 square foot plot in the Sunnyside neighborhood, and from there Sunnyside Farms was born. They have since been selling their produce to local restaurants, at farmers' markets, and through a CSA. As a GoFarm apprentice Steven now farms on additional acreage and is hoping to expand his market to include more restaurants, farmers markets and grocers. Charlotte Larson - Wolf Creek Fresh Wolf Creek Fresh is a family farm located on the eastern plains of Colorado. Charlotte and her family embarked on this adventure in the summer of 2019 selling produce to family and friends in the DTC area, as well as for GoFarm. This year, Wolf Creek Fresh is growing a vegetable CSA serving 25 members. They are also trying out melons, pumpkins, culinary and medicinal herbs, cut flowers, edible flowers, and eggs and goats! Their goal is to grow great quality, wholesome food to feed their family, and to share that bounty with yours! They are committed to being good stewards of the land and to help the land reach it’s full potential through holistic farming practices. Ivan Soto - SoCliff Farm SoCliff Farm is an urban farm in Lakewood committed to sustainable processes that highlight the flavor of the produce while helping regenerate the soil. Ivan uses zero pesticides, weeds by hand, and uses water conservation practices. The farm name blends Ivan's parents’ surnames, which harken to a rich history of international cuisine and hard work.




Farmer Mentors


Sean Conway Sean Conway is the farmer and founder of Micro Farms. He started his farming career serving in the Peace Corps as an Agricultural Volunteer in Paraguay in 2010, gaining experience in permaculture, sustainable farming, and building sustainable community organizations. In 2014 he worked as the crew leader at Feeding Laramie Valley where he expanded his knowledge of sustainable farming and community building in an urban environments. After that he returned to his hometown of Lakewood, CO and began Micro Farms Colorado where he focuses on growing high-quality produce on front and back lawns of homes in Lakewood and Arvada. Brien Darby Brien has been a non-profit farmer with the Denver Botanic Gardens since 2009. Her farms are located on land owned by the Denver Housing Authority and are focused on providing community benefit to the residents of these sites. She has also worked at a small farm in Boulder county and has studied environmental studies and public health. Her favorite farm tasks include greenhouse propagation, soil preparation, crop planning, and seed saving. She also enjoys landscape design and is savvy in making the maximizing the use of small spaces. Bessie Hillard Bessie began her farming journey in 2006 as a live-in volunteer on a vegetable farm/goat dairy outside of Waco, TX. She loved it so much that she went on to work on a vegetable farm in Moab, UT for 2 seasons, and then became assistant manager on a farm in Crawford, CO for another 2 seasons. In 2013, she took the leap and started Brown Dog Farm in Golden, CO, until she moved her operations to Longmont in 2018. She now has 2 acres of land, specializes in greens (but grows a variety of vegetables as well), and runs the farm on her own with her husband and the help of volunteers. Chris McCune Chris grew up as a “city-kid” from a multi-generational farm family in Colorado Springs. He spent a lot of time on his family’s farm as a kid, but never farmed on his own until 2013, when he and his wife took the plunge and purchased a 1 acre property in Wheat Ridge. It was then that he started Roost Farms from the ground up, a multi-tasking urban farm that grows vegetables, flowers, and fruit. He also has ~100 chickens, 5 Nigerian Dwarf Goats, and honeybee hives. A lot happens on the farm, including a summer and fall CSA, summer farm camp, school field trips, honey sales, two Airbnb units, and whatever else they scheme up. Chris cares deeply about building relationships with this community, and growing food organically and sustainably. Liz Nail Liz is co-founder of Mile High Fungi, a gourmet mushroom farm located in Deer Creek Canyon near Conifer. She met her husband (and Mile High Fungi co-founder) in college while studying sustainable agriculture. They studied a variety of subjects from compost sciences to tropical cropping systems and everything in between. In 2014 they found their niche with Mile High Fungi where they specialize in growing a variety of gourmet mushrooms including lion’s mane, shiitakes, king trumpets, chestnuts and oysters. Their business has grown immensely since they started in 2014, in large part due to social media, word of mouth, and their deep knowledge and love for mushrooms. Jenna Smith Jenna came into farming from the ecology/conservation perspective while studying in Madagascar, working with coffee farmers on diversifying their cropping systems. She went on to earn an M.S. in Agroecology while living abroad, and when she returned to Colorado in 2015, started doing aquaponics farming at The GrowHaus. She now runs the aquaponic farm at the Dahlia Campus Farm and Garden, a 5,400 sq ft farm housed under the Mental Health Center of Denver. Her knowledge about operating a farm, growing food, and running a business runs deep, and her unique background allows her to approach farming from different perspectives. Jamie Wickler Jamie has been growing for 7 years at her farmstead in Lakewood. She recently retired from Denver Botanic Gardens where she farmed for their CSA and created a program for training military veterans to learn to farm. Her newest venture started, the Lakewood Growers Collective, is a collaboration of female farmers working together to create a sustainable food system in the Greater Denver Area. The Collective was formed to reduce barriers and increase confidence by providing small-scale female farmers the opportunity to grow, aggregate, and distribute locally grown produce within minutes of their operations.




Interns


Grace Ota Grace has a Bachelor's degree in ecosystem science and sustainability from CSU. While in school, she volunteered to garden on urban land in Portland with those experiencing homelessness, Henry Red Cloud's Renewable Energy Center on Pine Ridge Reservation with native community members in a food desert, and the Environmental Learning Center in Fort Collins for children and community education. After college she spent 4 months farming and groundskeeping on two Hawaiian islands and is excited to finally farm on her home land in Colorado. Grace is dedicated to cultural awareness, diversity, and connecting people to the land and to each other through the food system. Outside of the GoFarm internship Grace is working towards her doula certification and loves camping, reading and coffee. Malik Salsberry Malik first joined GoFarm as an extern after his AmeriCorps VISTA term as a Garden Share Coordinator. Orginally from Davenport, Iowa, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor's in Enterprise Leadership and a Psychology minor. He found his passion for food after a college farming apprenticeship, and later moved to Boulder to pursue his AmeriCorps VISTA position. He is grateful to be a part of GoFarm, working alongside like-minded people that are working to help correct an unjust food system. Malik holds a strong belief that good food is a human right and that creating a better food system requires cooperation and addressing pervasive inequities in our current food system. When he's not working Malik loves reading, hiking, listening to music, biking, gardening, and playing video and tabletop games. ​Alex H. With a background in engineering, Alex has spent the last several years working for an electronics manufacturer. Though now, Alex is looking to change careers and find something that aligns with her values of supporting local economies, respecting the land, and making good, nutritious food accessible to everyone. Happiest when she's outside with dirt under her fingernails, she is excited to learn about what it takes to grow food on a community scale. Alex also enjoys hiking, gardening, cooking, and spending time with her partner, their dog, and her horse.





 

One major component of the GoFarm Incubator is the GoFarm Marketplace, an online farmers market created specifically for current incubator apprentices and graduates of the program. The GoFarm Marketplace expands access to fresh, local produce in the community, as well as offers a socially distanced sales outlet for our farmers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The marketplace is currently on hold during these cooler winter months. But please check back in the Spring of 2021 and we will list the weekly pickup times and locations for the online marketplace!

 

This program provides local growers with access to necessary equipment without having to take on the burdens associated with ownership. With the ability to rent equipment at affordable prices, growers will be able to decrease their production costs and increase their return on investment. In addition, by sharing equipment across many different growers, the equipment will be well utilized, spending more time in the fields and less time sitting in storage. This program is a partnership between GoFarm and Jefferson Conservation District.

If you need equipment to rent, check out our equipment list! Each tool can be rented on a per day or per week basis. There is an easy check-out and return process for each item and fees vary per tool.

 

Our Local Food Share supports many small, local farms by offering a convenient avenue to sell their produce through. Some farmers dedicate a portion of their crop to GoFarm each week, whereas others supply us with food whenever their crop allows for it. The Local Food Share serves over 700 community members per year, with a lot of food going to families who would otherwise struggle to put healthy, local food on their tables.

Unlike traditional wholesale market avenues, we allow our farmers to set the prices on the food they sell to us. We value the hard work and dedication it takes to growing food, and believe that their farm businesses will thrive if they are always paid a fair market price. The Local Food Share also allows more time for the farmers to focus on what they do best, FARM, leaving the rest of the work to us.

 

Information on Organic and Sustainable Practice Standards

USDA Organic Standards

Intro to Organic Practices

USDA Sustainable Agriculture

Food Safety Resources

Produce Safety Alliance and FSMA

Project, Employee Health and Hygiene

GAP Certification (GoFarm does not require a GAP audit, however, we recomend that all farmers abide by this guide) 

 

Equipment

Jefferson Conservation Districts Equipment Share Program

Home Depot Equipment Retail

Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP) An NRCS program that gives you government incentives to implement conservation practices on your land

 

Templates

Food Safety Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Pre-Planning Guide

Record Keeping

Grants and Funding

CO Specialty Crops Grant Application

Agricultural Workforce Development Program

 

Events/Trainings

FSMA Training (Food Safety)

Articles

10 Ways to be More Efficient on Your Small Farm

GoFarm works to transform our local food system into one that is thriving, environmental sustainable, and equitable for all. Through our three program areas, we support and mentor local farmers, make healthy food more affordable and accessible to under-resourced communities, and connect people with where their food comes from.

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