This is the second installment in a blog series featuring the ten recipients of our 2023 Muck Boot Chapter Capacity Grant program. Through this year’s grant program, the chapters received fundraising training and support to help them build long-term financial sustainability.
Since 2019, the Southeast Tennessee Young Farmers Chapter has worked with farmers across Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, connecting them with tools, resources, and other farmers to support them with building successful farming careers. A question the chapter has been asking themselves is how to keep their work going over the long-term. An important component of building lasting sustainability is financial security, which is the intention behind the latest iteration of the Chapter Capacity Grant Program. The Southeast Tennessee chapter was one of ten recipients to receive the grant in 2023, which included fundraising training and support.
One of the chapter’s goals is to diversify their funding pool, rather than rely on a few funders, to achieve greater financial stability. Through the grant program, the chapter worked with a development consultant who helped them put together a prospecting worksheet of local funders, grant opportunities, and corporate partners they could potentially receive funding from. Last year, the chapter also hired a part-time coordinator with a grant they received from Patagonia and is looking to fill that position again this year to build additional capacity for fundraising.
Exploring different avenues through which farmers in their area can collaborate with one another is a major focus of the chapter. This year the chapter applied for grants to help them start a Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) network, a farmer-to-farmer regional education program. The chapter also wants to experiment with Coordinated Crop Planning (CPP), which allows farmers and buyers to work together to plan for a more steady supply of local food and guaranteed customers.
The chapter also engages in policy advocacy on issues that impact young and BIPOC farmers in the state, including advocating for land access at state level. Earlier this year, they collaborated with the American Farmland Trust to put together a proposal to the state legislature to develop a state level trust fund for the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE); and to better fund and resource existing land linking programs such as Tennessee’s FarmLink, an online tool that can connect farmland owners to farmers seeking land; and the University of Tennessee Extension’s MANAGE program, which focuses on farmland succession.
Chapters of the National Young Farmers Coalition are the purpose for and partners in our mission to shift power and change policy to equitably resource our new generation of working farmers. Check out our website to see existing Chapters in your area and email us at Chapters@youngfarmers.org to discuss starting a Chapter.