Beginning farmers and ranchers looking to improve their agricultural business and connect with experienced producers have a new option in Central Oregon. The Growing Together Mentorship Program, launched by the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance in 2022, aims to improve knowledge of agricultural production, sales, business management, and farm viability by connecting experienced and beginning farmers and ranchers with one another.
In the inaugural year of the program, there are three mentors serving: Katia Steckly of Double F Ranch, David Kellner-Rode of Boundless Farmstead and Scott Maricle of Well Rooted Farms. Each mentor brings a diverse set of skills and knowledge with them and the program uses the strengths of the mentors and educational needs of the mentees to determine relevant topics of improvement.
“Farming can be a voracious beast — if you lack the skills to manage it and don’t set boundaries, it will steal every ounce of strength from your body, every dollar from your pocket, every hour from your day and every moment from your kids’ childhood,” states Katia Steckly of Double F Ranch located in Antelope, Oregon. “Learning to farm holistically is a skill and if beginning farmers and ranchers can develop that skill set early on in their farming career, they set themselves up for long-term success with personally fulfilling, financially sound businesses contributing to a strong local food system.”
If you are a beginning farmer or rancher and would like to learn more or participate, visit hdffa.org/portfolio-posts/mentor.