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Farming Smarter piloting new Farm Resilience Mentorship Program

Posted on March 14, 2024 by admin

By Heather Cameron
Westwind Weekly News

The 2024 Farming Smarter Conference held recently at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge and included a presentation from Ashley Wagenaar from Farming Smarter about a new pilot project that is starting called the Farm Resilience Mentorship (FaRM) Program.

“The program focus is developing regional specific knowledge in identified sustainable practices that are just accessible,” said Wagenaar.

Wagenaar says that Farming Smarter partnered with Farmers for Climate Solutions (FCS) for this program. FCS, Wagenaar said, gives money to organizations like Farming Smarter and that funding allows them to work directly with farms to do really unique projects.

The program, Wagenaar said, focuses on three main topics: nitrogen management, cover cropping, and advanced grazing systems and the relationship between all of those subject topics and how they work together. 

“FaRM, they’ve put all this money into these resources, and they say, ‘We want people to use these or be interested in these, or utilize maybe some different practices that they haven’t done yet’,” said Wagenaar. 

Wagenaar says that at the moment, FaRM is a one-year project and Farming Smarter is hoping to sign up 10 farms who are interested in working with them. The farms. Wagenaar said, will work with her and her support, which includes Robert Dunn who has been in the agriculture consulting industry, and also with the extension program that the Alberta government used to have in agriculture for 30 plus years. 

“What we will do is we will identify an area of improvement, we look at that, we work with you specifically about what you are interested in, and then we create a little on-farm project, and this hopefully, along with our support creates a little bit of a regional-specific network of knowledge and support in the area,” Wagenaar said. 

Wagenaar emphasized that Farming Smarter is truly interested in having people who like to work with them coming forward and talk to them about FaRM in hopes that there is an opportunity to collaborate there.

“Why would someone want to be interested in working with us on this?” asked Wagenaar. “It’s a unique project where we’re able to fund a project without any super specific parameters. We are able to be flexible. We’re not going to be telling you what we would like you to do. We are hoping that you will tell us what you’re interested in doing. It doesn’t matter where you are on the spectrum of your farm, like you could have never touched a cover crop ever in your life to the point where you have like a really good strategy and you’re super confident of what you’re doing on your farm. You could be anywhere in that spectrum. We don’t have any specifications on any farms. We’re open to working with anybody. I think this is a really unique opportunity because we are here as support. We want to learn and we want to create and share. We hope that someone has a great project and they would just like a little bit of support and we are very excited to be that support.”

Wagenaar said that more information about the program and the topics within the program is available on https://www.farmlearninghub.ca/. 

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