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Getting Started in Farming: Help Available

An inner-city Milwaukee girl's dreams of growing and selling flowers came true with the help of a beginning farmer program. (Lovelight Flowers)
An inner-city Milwaukee girl's dreams of growing and selling flowers came true with the help of a beginning farmer program. (Lovelight Flowers)
October 10, 2016

EAST TROY, Wis. – One of the hardest things to do is getting started in production agriculture in Wisconsin, particularly if you're not from a farming family that owns land.

More and more young people are becoming interested in owning their own operation, but don't have access to land or the necessary skills.

That's where the Beginning Farmer program at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute can help.

Andrea Clemens grew up in Milwaukee, but wanted to grow her own flowers and start a business. As a graduate of the Beginning Farmer program, she's been able to do that.

"I had this dream and I was able to go through this program and meet the perfect mentors to get me through the different steps throughout the seasons, and just help me learn and grow," she relates.

Clemens now owns and runs a successful business, Lovelight Flowers. She and many others have gone through the program and now own or operate farms or ranches.

More information about the Beginning Farmer program is online at michaelfields.org.

According to Clemens, finding land is one of the biggest challenges. But she says the program helped her overcome that challenge.

"I ended up becoming an incubator farmer and now, have access to organic land that I can lease long-term at an affordable price, and I can really just shape and grow my farm business however I please," she explains.

Clemens says as a city girl, she didn't have the technical knowledge to get her floral business underway, until her mentors got her up to speed quickly. She thinks a lot of young people who want to get into an agri-business are in the same situation.

"A lot of that knowledge was passed down from our ancestors or our family members,” she points out. “And now, it seems like we kind of skipped a generation here. A lot of us have maybe learned from our grandparents, but haven't learned from our parents."


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI