Network Development and Skill Building of Agriculture Service Providers for an Inclusive and Food Secure New Hampshire

As New Hampshire's farming community ages, so too do the service providers who support them. During the global pandemic, many service providers who had lengthy careers and were well networked across the state retired. New staff have not had the opportunity to develop relationships with farmers, agencies or industries. No single organization in the state has stepped forward taken leadership in gathering agency partners in networking, communication, collaboration or skill building.

In addition, given historic and well-documented racial inequities across the food system, service providers must improve their cultural competencies to better serve an all-incisive agricultural landscape. A well-connected network, with better understanding of cultural stressors, will be more efficient, better able to address major issues, and work towards collective goals.

Therefore, over the course of this project led by the NH state SARE coordinator, agriculture service providers will be connecting more formally and regularly to identify grower needs and service provider knowledge gaps, execute culturally proficient professional development activities, and develop communication channels to serve New Hampshire agriculture.

The target audiences for the project include NH Agriculture Financiers, a group of service providers who offer farm business planning and management support, and the UNH Extension Beginner Farmer team. Three Beginner Farmer liaisons will be hired as both program participants and co-leaders, providing ongoing input and direction to the network, to the project team.

The network of providers will build out communications plans, improve functionality of webpages and web-based offerings including blogs and resources for beginning and established farms.

Performance Target: Sixteen agriculture service providers will develop skills in advising farm businesses with improved cultural competencies to better serve a diverse group of New Hampshire farmers. These 16 service providers will increase their awareness of the structural racism present in the food system, and the importance of collaborating as a network to address such challenges. The service providers will be better able to serve New Hampshire farmers though a strengthened, more connected network serving 80 farmers.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant: