Pilot Parcels Project calls for farmers with fresh ideas

Pilot Parcels Project calls for farmers with fresh ideas

TFI seeks farmers from all backgrounds and experience to apply for the Pilot Parcels Project plots, which are available for a 10-month lease. — Photo courtesy of The FARM Institute

Farmers and gardeners take note: Five one-acre plots are available at The FARM Institute (TFI) in Edgartown for those with innovative agriculture ideas, as part of the new Pilot Parcels Project.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (NESARE) granted TFI funding to support Martha’s Vineyard farmers who want to experiment. TFI seeks farmers from all backgrounds and experience to apply for the plots, which are available for a 10-month lease.

According to a press release, “The project would provide a low-risk environment for answering participant’s enterprise questions, such as: Is it feasible to grow our own hops for beer? Could I raise my own grain for locally grown chickens?” The FARM Institute will ask its own questions about whether successful projects can be expanded through ongoing partnerships.”

TFI will provide:

An up-to-date soil test

Rough discing for seedbed

$500 to spend on seed, soil prep, equipment rentals, and other supplies

Educational events and consultation

Press releases and other public information to help with crop distribution

Participants need to provide:

Labor

Adherence to lease requirements that include weed control and methods of soil enhancement.

Documentation of process, problems, costs, and outcomes.

Participation in community and educational events through the program.

According to the TFI website, “The purpose of Pilot Parcels is to expand ideas about crops that can be grown and marketed successfully on the Island and to share these ideas with other farmers and people interested in developing value-added products.”

TFI also notes that for successful projects, there may be the option for developing new and/or expanded leases.

About TFI

TFI, located in Katama, is a 162-acre working farm that offers various programs for children and adults to learn about life on a farm.

TFI sells its own meat year-round, from breakfast sausage and hot dogs to pork loins and rib eye steaks, as well as fiber, and produce in the warmer months.

Applications are available at farminstitute.org, and are due by March 21. Participants will be chosen by March 28, and plots assigned on March 30. For more information, visit the website or call 508-627-7007.

For more information about NESARE, visit nesare.org.