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The Last Cycle of the Young Farmer Grant Program

For the last five years, Young Farmers has partnered with Chipotle and Soul Fire Farm to provide $5,000 grants to young and BIPOC farmers through our Young Farmer Grant Program. Having an opportunity to resource young, beginning, and BIPOC farmers with a direct and flexible grant funding opportunity has been a gratifying experience for the Coalition. Over those years, we’ve met over 4,500 farmers, ranchers, and land stewards who shared their stories, dreams, and goals with us. We are honored to have heard your stories, and carry forward the challenges you named to realizing your farming dreams into all of our campaigns for structural change to better resource the new generation of farmers, ranchers, and land stewards.

When we started the program back in 2020 it was a great way for us to meet new farmers each year and provide immediate financial support to a cohort of growers that was flexible enough to meet their needs and set a model for equitable distribution of funding in agriculture. Over 4,500 young farmers and ranchers applied to our program over its five-year lifespan, many of whom applied multiple years over, and we believe we’ve made a strong case for the need for flexible and equitable funding available in small grants for young, beginning, and BIPOC farmers nationwide. 

In just the five years we’ve run this program, we’ve redistributed $1,375,000 directly to young and BIPOC farmers. We are incredibly grateful to our partners at Chipotle who made this program possible for all those years.

As an organization that works primarily on policy change, at Young Farmers we are keenly aware that no amount of private, foundation, and philanthropic funding could ever meet the widespread and urgent needs for financial support that young and BIPOC farmers are facing. To reach all the folks who applied to our program over the years, and to meet their needs and the needs of all the other farmers who share in their challenges, would require real meaningful structural change and a federal investment in this new generation of farmers.

That’s why, while we are sad to sunset this program and our in-house funding model, we will never stop fighting to resource young and BIPOC farmers fully and equitably. We hope the policy and advocacy work at the Coalition will one day bring about resources like this funded at the level that only public dollars could reach, and we hope this program serves as a model to build a program like that one day. 

Though the Coalition has never been primarily a grant-making organization, through the Young Farmer Grant Program we have been able to fund 275 young, beginning, and BIPOC farmers and ranchers! Young Farmers has always been tackling structural change and working to resource a new generation of farmers through policy change at the state and federal levels. We believe changing policy can reduce and, one day, eliminate the kinds of structural barriers that create a need for funding opportunities like the Young Farmer Grant Program in the first place, and federal dollars could do a much stronger job of reaching far more farmers than we could in any given year.

While we are sad to see the program come to a close, we are continuing our partnership with Chipotle and shifting that collaboration to focus more fully on our original mission of shifting power by changing policy to equitably resource all young, beginning, and BIPOC farmers through the federal programs that should be serving them. 

If you’d like to learn more about what federal policy campaigns we are working on at the moment check out our Farm Bill Action Network – take one of our actions and receive a one-year free Community Membership with the National Young Farmers Coalition.

To learn about other opportunities to use your voice to fight for the structural change desperately needed in our food and agriculture systems, visit our engagement map to explore opportunities to organize alongside us.

To learn more about the folks who received our grant over the years, visit this page.

You can read on to hear some of these recipients’ reflections and share in their celebrations below.


Celebrations from Recipients:

 “​​We are immensely grateful for the invaluable support Sanctuary Farms has received through the Young Farmer Grant Program, especially for the transformative impact it has had on our water management practices. The implementation of a robust water irrigation system, made possible by your funding, has revolutionized our operations, ensuring sustainability and resilience in the face of fluctuating environmental conditions. We are excited to contribute our success story to the celebratory blog post for the Coalition, sharing how this grant has empowered us to embrace sustainable practices and drive positive change in our community.”
– Jøn Kent with Sanctuary Farms in Detroit, Michigan

“The Young Farmers Grant Program enabled our farm to hire and mentor LGBTQ and queer youth who are at the beginning stages of their agricultural and farming career, training them in a variety of different urban farming and gardening skill sets. In addition, the funding enabled us to buy the needed equipment and supplies to have a successful first season and helped us build out infrastructure and processes that we are regularly utilizing (and will continue to utilize) in subsequent seasons. Ultimately, the funding helped us build a foundation to have a fully functioning, one acre farm in less than two years in the middle of a highly urban city.”
— Jose Magaña-Salgado with Edgewood Community Farm in Washington, D.C. 

“We are so grateful for the Young Farmer Grant program. Being awarded a grant in 2023 not only helped us start a big farm project–it helped boost my confidence and skills in grant writing. Our grant was used to begin construction on a new plant nursery and it’s been amazing. It increased our growing space by almost double and we will be able to keep this structure up year round. Thank you for all of your work to help build up young farmers!”
— Ashley TenHarmsel with North Harvest CSA in Calumet, Michigan

“We were so grateful to receive a Young Farmer Grant to purchase a low tunnel from Farmer’s Friend. This tunnel made it possible to grow early spring flowers like ranunculus and to protect summer crops like squash and tomatoes from disease. I also really enjoyed being a grant reader for two winters and learned a lot from that process. Thank you for making an accessible, equitable grant for young farmers, it helped us to be more sustainable in our early years!”
– Meg Bantle with Full Well Farm in Adams, Massachusetts
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