Wednesday October 1, 2014 at 9:00 AM PDT


Friday October 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM PDT
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Ecotrust at Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center
721 NW 9th Ave #200
Portland, OR 97209

Driving Directions 


Registration for this three day event is $269 per participant and includes:

  • Two mornings with two sessions of workshops (two choices per session)  
  • Two afternoons of Open Space facilitated discussion groups and skill shares based on attendee interests 
  • A visit to two excellent incubator projects in the Portland area, the East Mulnomah Soil and Water Conservations District's "Headwaters Incubator Farm" and Mercy Corps Northwest's refugee training farms. Each farm tour will include a panel discussion with farmers and staff from the project
  • Wednesday: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack
  • Thursday: breakfast, lunch, and snack 
  • Friday: lunch and snack
  • A dinner and planned evening social activity on Wednesday, Oct. 1st in Portland
  • The opportunity to network, share, learn from and spend time with staff from farm incubators from across North America!




We encourage those in need of accomodations to join us at the Courtyard Portland City Center Marriott (550 SW Oak Street) where we have reserved a block of hotel rooms. This hotel is within walking distance of Ecotrust, and is where the farm tour bus will pick up attendees on Friday, Oct. 3rd.

Reserve your room using  "The National Incubator Farm Training Initiative (NIFTI)" group code to receive the special rate of $159.00 (plus tax) per night for two queen beds. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-606-3717 or online at www.myfavoritecourtyard.com

Please note that the deadline for the special hotel rate is September 9, 2014






Wendy Mainardi
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

National Incubator Farm Training Initiative Field School


Registration is now closed.

The NIFTI Field School comes to the West Coast for the first time!

This annual event brings together practitioners in the field of land-based beginning farmer training from all over the U.S. to share best practices, learn from each other, and develop collective solutions to our unique challenges. This year’s Field School will feature presentations from experts on a variety of relevant topics, as well as opportunities for collaborative learning and networking. 

The Field School will include: two mornings of workshop presentations, two afternoons of Open Space discussion groups and skill shares based on attendees' interests and facilitated by NIFTI staff and partners, and extensive farm tours of two incubator projects in the Portland area: the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservations District's "Headwaters Incubator Farm" and Mercy Corps Northwest's refugee training farms. 

This event is designed for the staff of organizations that provide land-based training and technical assistance to beginning farmers. Click here for a complete description of who NIFTI serves.  NIFTI is a program of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.

Conference schedule

Wednesday, October 1st  

8:00-9:00: Breakfast at Ecotrust

9:15-9:30: Introduction to NIFTI and event schedule

9:30-10:30: Attendee introductions

10:30-12:00: Workshop Session 1, choice of two workshops:

Teaching Financial Literacy and Business Planning to Farmers (with a focus on non-native English speakers): presentation description to come


Fostering Farmer Independence: The support of an incubator farm is key to putting many new farmers on the road to success. This workshop will address the process of transitioning farmers to independence. How long should a farmer be in a training program? What type of continued support should be available after graduating from the incubator? What does the transition from incubator to independence look like? We will discuss these questions and more along with innovative solutions and ideas.   

12:00-1:00: Lunch at Ecotrust provided

1:15-2:45: Workshop Session 2, choice of two workshops:

Teaching Financial Literacy and Business Planning to Farmers (advanced, and native English speakers): We will discuss sustainable money management, and how to encourage farms to make the most of thier farm financial future. This includes how money affects what you do, cash flow analysis, planning for money reserves, risk management, succession planning, and tax concepts.


Best Practices for Food Hubs and Collective Marketing: presentation description to come

3:00-3:20: Snack AND Open Space Meeting facilitation (see more details below)

3:20-3:30: Open Space discussion logistics (who, what, and where)

3:30-4:30: Open Space Session 1: choice of 3 discussions

4:45-5:45: Open Space Session 2: choice of 3 discussions

6:30 Join us for dinner in Portland! (included in registration)

Thursday, October 2nd

8:00-9:00: Breakfast at Ecotrust

9:15-10:45: Thursday Workshop Session 1, choice of two workshops:

Adult Education, Part I, Theory: Teaching farming without a clear theory for adult learning as a guide is like planning and managing soil fertility without a grasp of the nitrogen cycle. Learn fundamental  principles for designing a range of instructional and curricular programming. A number of successful farmer education projects will be case studied, from a theoretical perspective. Lets pop the hood and see what makes them tick, not just how they work, by why they work as well as they do.


Program Funding, Challenges and Solutions: Running an incubator farm is fun and rewarding, yet funding the start up, infrastructure development, staffing, and ongoing maintenance of the incubator farm and related programming can be challenging.  Learn tips and tricks from four programs using unique funding strategies including government and foundation grants, business partnerships, program revenue, social enterprise models, fee-for-service, local and county tax incentives, crowd funding, and more.  Strategies for developing start up budgets, how to balance limited staff time effectively for development activities, and other topics will be discussed.  Join us in conversation about how to leverage the NIFTI network to advocate for additional resources for farm incubators.

11:00-12:30 Thursday Workshop Session 2, choice of two workshops:

Adult Education, Part II, Practices for U.S. born Farmers: Putting educational theory to work. Just as a tractor needs the right implements for effective and efficient field work, applying best practices of adult education helps equip educators with the right tools for the job of educating farmers. Learn practical applications of educational theory that will inspire you and your students. Bring opportunities and challenges from your workplace to the workshop (Ideally, participants in the Practice workshop will have taken the 'Adult education: Theory' workshop).


Adult Education, Part II, Practices for Refugee and Immigrant Farmers: Effectively teaching adult immigrant and refugee farmers can be a very different process than teaching farmers who were born and raised in the United States. This workshop will address teaching to mixed culture/literacy/experience classes, working with interpreters, classroom vs in-field teaching, practical tools and approaches, and evaluation of teaching. 

12:30-1:30: Lunch at Ecotrust provided

1:30-1:45: Open Space Meeting facilitation revisited

2:00-3:00: Open Space Session 3: choice of 3 discussions 

3:00-3:15: Snack

3:15-4:15: Open Space Session 4: choice of 3 discussions

4:30-5:00: Farm tour logistics

5:00: Free time for networking iand enjoying the City of Roses!

Friday, October 3rd

- Breakfast not included, see provided list of suggested local cafes in the area

8:15: Bus pick-up at Portland City Center Courtyard Marriott

9:30-10:30: Farm tour at Mercy Corps Northwest's Refuge Gardens

10:45 - 11:00 Transport to Headwaters Incubator Farm 

11:15  - 12:30 Incubator community and farmer panel: An exploration of farmer development in Oregon focusing on the overarching support networks and organizations, highlights from two local farm incubator programs, and insights from incubator farmers.

11:30-12:30 Lunch provided during the panel
12:30 - 1:45 Farm tour of Headwaters Incubator Farm
1:45 - 2:15 Field School closing discussion
2:15 - 3:00 Transport back to Portland, conference ends at 3

Open Space Meetings

Together, we will brainstorm topics of interest to the "group at large" and then meet in facilitated groups around those topics throughout the day. Conference organizers will come prepared with resources to share based on the interests of registrants provided in advance, and other topics of general interest determined on site. For more on Open Space Meeting Technology, please visit:  http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-Openspace.html. This will also be an opportunity to practice inclusive and empowering ways of working with groups that we can take home and use in our respective projects.

Registration for this event is closed.


Please email wendy.mainardi@gmail.com to inquire about registration.