Growing Together Mentorship Program

Mentee applications now open! Apply here!

UPCOMING EVENT: Meet our mentors at the Growing Together: Mentor Q&A

Thursday, December 15th, at 10am. Register here!

Growing Together Mentorship Program

The Growing Together Mentorship Program is a new program launched in the spring of 2022. Developed by the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, its goal is to connect experienced and beginning farmers and ranchers (typically defined as those with less than ten years of farming experience) to provide mentorship and improved knowledge of agricultural production, sales, and farm viability. The program is designed to be flexible in order to meet the needs of both the mentors and mentees.

How it Works

The program does not have a formalized curriculum, but rather uses the strengths of the mentors and the educational needs of the mentees to determine relevant topics for improvement. Mentees will choose from a variety of agriculture-related topics such as cover cropping, production planning, agritourism, and direct-to-consumer marketing, and are paired with a mentor who has a similar operation type (i.e. livestock, diversified vegetable) and proven proficiency in one or more of these competencies. Mentors and mentees will determine how often they plan to meet (weekly, monthly, quarterly), how long they plan to meet, and how they plan to meet (i.e. virtually, by phone, in person). 

The dynamic nature of this program is intentional as we understand the needs of all mentors and mentees will be different and leave it in the hands of the participants to determine what works best for them. The program will compensate mentors at a rate of $40 per hour. Mentees are able to use this service for free as long as they are a current partner of the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance.

This program runs seasonally from November-October. We hope that new mentee applications can prepare for the upcoming season, build relationships on strong foundations, and learn more about what they need by applying through fall and winter in order to apply these skills in the upcoming season. However, applications are open year-round.

If you are interested in this program as a mentee but are not a current HDFFA partner, please reach out to HDFFA’s Andrea Smith at andrea@hdffa.org to discuss opportunities to participate!

Mentor – “the teacher”: the Mentor is a trusted expert in farming and/or ranching and will serve to help develop the Mentee’s skillsets in agriculture

Mentee – “the learner”: the Mentee is someone who is looking to develop their agricultural understanding and skillsets through the guidance of a more experienced farmer or rancher, the Mentor

Sungrounded Farm - Photo by Amanda Photographic

Sign up below to be paired with an experienced farmer or rancher as your mentor. See mentee requirements at the bottom of this page.

Contact Info:

Andrea Smith, Agricultural Support Manager

andrea@hdffa.org

agsupport@hdffa.org

541-390-3572

Meet the Mentors

  • Katia Steckly
    Katia Steckly

    Ranch Name: Double F Ranch

    Experience: 14 years

    Grows/Raises: Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Chickens (meat and eggs), Grains, Hay and forage

    Areas of expertise:
    Business planning,
    Business vision and goal setting,
    CSA management,
    Dealing with overwhelm,
    Direct marketing,
    Financial management,
    Getting to profit,
    Marketing,
    Meat processing,
    Peer accountability and document review,
    Preventing burnout,
    Relationship-based marketing,
    Simplified marketing strategies,
    Time management,
    Work/life balance

  • David Kellner-Rode
    David Kellner-Rode

    Farm Name: Boundless Farmstead

    Experience: 6 years

    Grows/Raises: Vegetables, Fruit, Chickens (meat and eggs), Bees, Hay and Forage

    Areas of expertise:
    Business planning,
    Climate-smart agriculture,
    Cover crop,
    Crop planning and rotation,
    Greenhouse production,
    CSA management,
    Direct marketing,
    Harvest and handling,
    Irrigation,
    Machinery and equipment,
    Organic,
    Propagation,
    Season extension,
    Wholesale

  • Scott Maricle
    Scott Maricle

    Farm Name: Well Rooted Farms

    Experience: 9 years

    Grows/Raises: Vegetables, Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Chickens (eggs), Hay and forage

    Areas of expertise:
    Cover crop,
    Crop planning and rotation,
    Financial management,
    Irrigation,
    Labor management,
    Legal issues,
    Machinery and equipment,
    Marketing,
    Pasture management,
    Propagation,
    Season extension,
    Seed saving,
    Soil health,
    Transportation,
    Rotational grazing,
    Waste management,
    Wholesale

Mentee Eligibility

  • Mentee must be a farmer or rancher with an agricultural operation in Central Oregon (Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) OR an employee of a farm or ranch located within Central Oregon.
  • Mentee’s farm/ranch must be operational in 2023. For farmers/ranchers getting started this year, land must be secured for the 2023 season, and the mentee must be actively preparing to start growing or raising crops for the 2023 season.
  • Mentee’s farm/ranch must be a current partner with the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance.
  • Mentees must have fewer than 10 years of experience owning and operating their own farm/ranch (past farmhand or apprenticeship experience does not count).

HDFFA aims to be flexible, so if you do not meet one of the eligibility requirements above, please reach out to HDFFA’s Agricultural Support Manager at andrea@hdffa.org to discuss participation.

Mentee Requirements

  • Mentees will be screened and deemed eligible by the Agricultural Support Manager before being connected with a mentor.
  • Mentees are eligible to utilize up to 10 hours of mentorship during the 2022-23 mentorship period.
  • Mentees will not be reimbursed for travel to and from the mentor’s farm.
  • Dependent on funding, HDFFA may cap the number of mentees at some point if budgeted hours run out.

This project is supported by the Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program grant [grant no. 2020-70017-32426] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Contact Us

We're not around right now, but we would love to hear from you. Team HDFFA

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