Farmer Education

Hands-on and classroom training in organic farming.

Growing Farmers. Growing Food.

The Big River Farms education program teaches beginning farmers about food production and how to run a successful small farm enterprise. We encourage participants to think realistically about owning their own small farm operation.  

The education program starts in January with weekly classes through April and continues throughout the growing season with hands-on mentorship at Big River Farms.

Current & Future Farmers

  • Classes only: For farmers and community members who want to learn about or transition to organic farming.
  • Independent plot: For farmers with at least one year of experience growing crops in this climate and who want to farm their own plot at Big River Farms. You’ll also learn about production, business planning, food safety, and organic certification.
  • Whole farm management: For farmers who have completed our basic education program and want to gain experience in whole farm management operating as an independent business at Big River Farms.


What’s covered in the classes?

The program includes 8 to 12 winter classroom trainings and 10 in-field trainings with short skill sessions and trips to other farms. Classes cover production, marketing, farm operations and more.

What’s included with an independent plot?

You’ll have your own fertilized, fenced plot of land. The plot includes: tractor tillage and water access; use of cleaning, packing and cold storage facilities; access to additional infrastructure and resources, such as where to purchase seeds, tools, and other supplies; and opportunities to sell organic produce.

Who buys the food grown at Big River Farms?

Participating farmers have a guaranteed market for their produce. Big River Farms supports sales through wholesale contracts, farmers markets, and CSAs.

Who can participate?

Winter classes and in-field trainings are open to the public. The land-based program supports populations that have had difficulty accessing resources to establish farms due to systemic racism and xenophobia (e.g., immigrant, refugee, BIPOC, LGBTQ, women+, veteran, low-income, etc.). Land-based participants must have access to resources needed to participate (e.g., transportation, money for program costs, enough time to meet program requirements, etc.). You must also commit to producing vegetables on a market scale, learning the principles and practices of organic farming, and learning to manage a U.S. farm business.

How do I sign up?

Enrollment is open October – December. Request an update when registration begins here or call or 651-433-3676. We’ll set up a meeting to chat more or tour the farm.

Deciding? Try our “Is this program right for me?” questionnaire.

Questions? Interested? Email Bekah Kropp or call 651-433-3676

The Food Group believes in food equity. They believe in culturally specific foods. They believe in meeting people where they are at. And most of all, they believe in dignity.

The Food Group volunteer and donor

At Big River Farms, we believe everyone who wants to start a sustainable farm should have access to education, land, infrastructure, markets, resources, and connections to meet their goals.

Calling Local Farmers
Would you like skilled staff and volunteers from The Food Group to harvest leftover produce at your farm or orchard? Email [email protected] or call 763-450-3872 to schedule a glean or set a time to bring your produce to our warehouse.

Have excess fruits and vegetables? We will purchase from you and share at no cost with our food access partners. Like you, we want to reduce food waste and put more fresh produce on the tables of families facing hunger.

Interested in Farmer Education?

Contact KaZoua Berry to learn more about the program and find info sessions!

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The Food Group

We’re a nonprofit working at the intersection of equity and access to fresh, sustainable foods. From farming to distribution, we provide fresh food across MN and WI.

The Food Group is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. EIN 41-1246504 Contributions are tax-deductible to the full amount provided by the law.

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The Food Group Office & Warehouse

Big River Farms