Mentor Match Program

The Maryland FarmLINK Mentor Match Program pairs experienced farmers (mentors) with new or transitioning farm owners/operators (mentees) for one-on-one training, advice and interaction. The year-long mentoring experience is enhanced with support from the Maryland FarmLINK Mentor Team, which provides technical assistance in farm production, business management, regulations, marketing and funding resources. Applications to the Mentor Match Program are accepted throughout the year.

Target areas. In 2015, the program will focus on mentoring in the following targeted areas: vegetable production (organic and conventional), pasture-raised poultry and rabbits, fruit, wine grapes and agritourism.

MENTEE eligibility and responsibilities. To be eligible for the program, mentees must have no more than than ten years' experience as a farm owner or operator and have an interest in cultivating skills in the target areas listed above. There is no charge to apply or be in the program. If a mentor match is found, the mentee's responsibilities will include the following:

  • Visit mentor's farm at least once
  • Host mentor visit to farm
  • Contact mentor periodically for input and to report progress
  • Attend one annual meeting
  • Provide progress reports to the Mentor Match Team
  • Complete a farm business plan

In addition, mentees are encouraged to attend relevant workshops posted on Maryland FarmLINK and to participate in distance learning classes such as Farm Business Planning and the Small Farms Course offered via the Maryland Rural Enterprises Development Center website.

MENTOR eligibility and responsibilities. Mentors are good farmers, stewards, and teachers who are recognized by their peers for their work and are willing to pass on their knowledge to others one-on-one. Mentor's responsibilities include the following:

  • Visit mentee's farm at least once
  • Host mentee visit to farm
  • Be available to answer questions by phone or email
  • Contact mentee periodically to track progress
  • Attend one annual meeting
  • Provide progress reports to the Mentor Match Team

Mentors will be paid a stipend of $750 for a one-year mentor agreement in 2014, thanks to funds provided by the Maryland Collaborative for Farmer Success and SMADC. This project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2012-49400-19552.

Do Mentees work on the Mentor's Farm? This type of program is different from an internship or trainer program. The new farmer is not required to help on the mentor's farm, unless both feel this would be beneficial. Instead, mentees learn from their one-on-one contact with a mentor and from technical assistance from the Mentor Match Team.

Want to know more? Click here to see a list of frequently asked questions about the program.

SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION

  • MENTEES: get an on-line mentee application here.
  • MENTORS: get an on-line mentor application here.

NOTE: The Maryland FarmLINK Mentor Match Program is modeled after the successful Maryland Grazers Network, where experienced dairy and meat producers are matched with those who want to raise these animals on pasture. If you are interested in seeking a mentor in ruminant grazing, SMADC recommends that you contact the Maryland Grazers Network.

OTHER MENTORING OPPORTUNITIES. For those searching for an informal mentor/mentee relationship, Maryland FarmLINK's Person-to-Person feature allows registered members to search for other members who have volunteered to mentor in selected areas of expertise. Mentoring primarily includes on-line communication; however, participants are free to make whatever arrangements they wish (farm visits, etc). Mentors are not vetted by SMADC or FarmLINK, and there are no requirements or fees to contact a potential mentor via the site's function. To access the function, go to this page and select MENTOR in the dropdown box labeled "Search For," then follow prompts.