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Latest from Young Farmers

May 2021 FRSAN-NE Newsletter


May is mental health awareness month and a reminder for us of how mental health is inextricably linked to every aspect of our lives: physical, economical, social, spiritual, and emotional. FRSAN-NE recognizes that farmers must be supported in their mental health to have thriving bodies, fields, communities, relationships, and feelings. This May, and every month, we work toward addressing both the daily and systemic stressors that our farming communities in the Northeast face.

This newsletter shares training opportunities on mental health, workshops supporting Latinx farm worker communities, an online resource search tool, and updates on FRSAN-NE happenings in Maine.


Upcoming Network Events and Trainings

FRSAN-NE Quarterly Call

Join the next FRSAN-NE Quarterly call on May 26th from 10am-11:30am. We will come together as a network and then learn about federal policy to support BIPOC farmers from Vanessa García Polanco, Interim Federal Policy Direction at the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Register below for Quarterly Calls, including the August 25th and November 17th calls.


Making Mental Health a Priority within Connecticut Agriculture

Please join UConn Extension for this virtual discussion on Thursday, June 10th from 7-8pm. Tom Steen from Steen Consulting is a Master Trainer in suicide prevention, postvention, and grief support. Tom will lead an open discussion around this critical topic with a mixed panel of agriculture service providers, farmers, and mental health professionals.

This webinar is free and open to all.

To register email MacKenzie White to receive the WebEx link:

For those who cannot attend live, it will be recorded and posted at following the session.


Latinx Farmworker Training Series

FRSAN-NE’s Training Working Group is hosting a series of three trainings on Latinx farmers, farmworkers, and farming communities. Registration links will be in the June Newsletter.

Session I:  June 15th; 10:00-11:30 AM
Planting Seeds: Supporting Thriving Latinx Farmer and Farmworker Communities

Register here

Description:  The Latinx community represents an incredibly diverse cross section of cultures, dialects, and backgrounds. Farmers and farmworkers come from many countries across the North, Central, and South American continents, each with a rich and unique history. This workshop will aim to provide background data on the populations of Latinx communities that are engaging in the various agricultural sectors in the Northeast (dairy, poultry, specialty crops, others) and demonstrate the diversity, complexity, and considerations of these differences. The aim of the workshop will be to better understand the nuances of each culture to inform how service providers might form better relationships, assess supports, and offer culturally connected services. We will hear from a panel of researchers, practitioners, and organizations working with various Latinx communities and their approach to outreach and engagement with the communities. Participants will engage in breakout groups to discuss outreach opportunities, strategies, and challenges.  Resources and sharing of ideas will ground the workshop in practical next steps.

Featured Panelists:
William Suarez II, Research Professor, College of Agricultural Sciences at University of Puerto-Rico-Mayaguez
Ismael Garcia-Colon, Cultural Anthropology Professor, City University of New York
Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, Penn State Extension Educator, Horticulture Team


Session II: July 13, 10-11:30am
Cultivating Connection: Culture and Communication


Session III: August 10, 10-11:30am
Harvesting Health: Provision of Services and Outreach


FRSAN-NE Resource Matrix

FRSAN-NE’s Resource Matrix provides an online search tool for Network Members to learn about farmer mental health assistance and stress management resources across the region, and to add their own! The Resource Matrix currently contains 196 entries that farm service providers can use to assist farmers in need.

Log onto the Resource Matrix to search for resources and to add new entries.


Maine: Implicit Bias and Anti-Racism Training Series

Thanks to FRSAN-NE funding, in collaboration with Cross Cultural Community Services, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has launched a three-part implicit bias and anti-racism training series. These trainings work to build a shared language and understanding with Maine agriculture service providers around implicit bias, racial stereotypes, and microaggressions and how these symptoms of systemic racism affect farmers of color in the state.

If you are a Maine based agriculture service provider and would like to attend this series as well as engage in a monthly cross organizational equity cohort, please contact Bo Dennis at


Network Member Feature: University of Maine’s Farm Coaching Program

The Farm Coaching Program began in 2018 with an Extension Risk Management Education (ERME) grant titled “Facilitating Communication in Farm Families with Personalized Coaching” and continues in 2021 with another ERME grant titled: “Farm Coaching: A Four Session Approach.” This program was awarded an outstanding project award from ERME in spring 2021.

This project offers farmers the opportunity to assess their individual, farm and family needs, develop a plan to address these needs, implement their plans and evaluate and refine their plans for the next season. The strength of this project is the four session format, the team coaching model, and in the individualized and evidence-based curriculum to assist farmers in a process to increase communication skills to mitigate human risk.

As a “pandemic pivot,” in April 2020, the Farm Coaching team began writing and distributing“Small Bites-Practical Tips for Farm Resiliency” which are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication and farm and family well-being.


 UMaine Farm Coaching and FRSAN-NE

Contact Polly at

Polly Shyka works as a contractor with the  University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Farm Coaching program. Polly serves on FRSAN-NE’s advisory team and on the training working group. She delights in working with other professionals dedicated to bettering the lives and livelihoods of farmworkers and farmers in the Northeast.

Polly also co-owns Villageside Farm, located on unceded Wabanaki land in the town currently known as Freedom, Maine. Polly and her partner, Prentice, work with 15 employees to produce organic herbs, vegetables and seedlings for wholesale markets. In the spring, they grow seedlings for gardeners and other farmers in two large heated greenhouses. In the summer and fall, they specialize in bunched greens, bunched herbs and root crops that feed customers at grocery stores, restaurants, colleges, catering businesses and the Maine State Prison.

Besides working, Polly chooses to volunteer with local school and law enforcement groups working to address systemic racism, to walk in the woods, play board games, share meals with friends and family and is a student in an interfaith chaplaincy training program.
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