Program Description


In the Big River Farms Training Program, Farmer Participants are exposed to the realities of running an independent farm: not just the work of producing food, but the details of running a successful business. It is a primary goal of the program to encourage farmers to think realistically about the feasibility of running and owning their own farm operation, and ultimately build the skills to run successful small farm enterprises upon graduation.  

Starting in January and continuing through the growing season, Farmer Participants attend classes on the topics of production, marketing and operating a farm business. Winter classes are held weekly in St. Paul, while trainings during the growing season are held at Big River Farms or on other nearby farms. 

Program Highlights

  • 8 winter class room trainings
  • 13 in-field trainings, including field trips to other farms and short skill sessions
  • Land to practice growing vegetables that is fenced in and has fertility added
  • Use of cleaning and packing facilities and cold storage
  • Tractor tillage and water access (with some irrigation supplies)
  • Training in organic certification
  • Training and networking opportunities at the Annual Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference
  • Access to additional resources and other infrastructure
  • One-on-one meetings and in-field consultation with staff

The Training Manager provides access to resources, such as where to purchase seeds, tools, and other supplies and where to sell your produce. She will assist you in practices such as how to make business goals and how to keep farm records.  She will also schedule regular visits to your field to answer your questions, provide helpful information and make sure you are on track with your goals.

The Farm Manager is also available to answer questions and help with production problems.  

Additional Staff are available to help with marketing, making connections to other organic farming organizations, and applying for financial assistance for new farmer endeavors. 



Big River Farms focuses its land-based training program on immigrant and minority farmers, a population that generally has difficulty accessing the resources needed to establish a successful farm business. However, both winter classes and in-field trainings are open to the public, space permitting.  

The Full Land-Based training program includes all classes and individual consultation, land use, and infrastructure use.  Click here for detailed fees. 

Individual classes, either the winter classes or the in-field trainings, are open to the public.  Register in advance by contacting the Training Manager, to ensure space is available and that no changes have been made. The fee for attending an individual class is $25.00. Discounts are available if paid in advance for multiple sessions.

As a Farmer Participant, you must be committed to producing vegetables on a market scale, learning the principles and practices of organic farming and learning to manage a farm business in the United States. 


Prospective Farmer Trainees/How To Apply
Please contact Laura Hedeen, Program Manager by email at, or by phone at (651) 433-3676, if you are interested in the full land-based training program.  She can assist you with one or more of the following:

  • Scheduling a one-on-one informational meeting.  
  • Attending a group informational session. 
  • Attending a winter class to learn more about the program.  

Program enrollment takes place November through January, with training classes starting in January or February. 

Ready to enroll? Take a moment to answer these questions before filling out the application: Is the Big River Farms Training Program Right for Me?

Fill out and submit the Application (PDF) before the end of December to apply for the following season. Once we receive your application, someone from our Training Program will be in touch with you to set up a meeting.