Published Nov 8, 2013

Deceitfully Dull Photo—Savings Incentive Program Applications

By Marc Strobbe

Selection BlogThat is the most boring picture ever to grace a Practical Farmers blog…or is it? That stack of paper holds the farm plans and dreams of 40 beginning farmers in Iowa! It is the final applications for the next round of Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program (SIP). Around 50 applications came through this year but various factors winnowed the total down to the final 40.

Our wonderful office staff recently prepared and sent those packets to the program’s governing committee for review and scoring. The committee is charged with creating the next group of up to 25 Savings Incentive Program enrollees out of those 40 applications. It is a challenging task and the committee deserves many thanks. (Practical Farmers staff are not involved in selection and would not be able to. There would be several hundred farms in the program each year).

The actual work is done by a fairly bland scoring matrix, which is based on a variety of factors our members deemed important for the program. Those that score high enough are invited to enroll in the program. Those that do not are encouraged to pursue their farm business dreams and apply again in the future.

As a whole the applications reveal a diversity typical to Practical Farmers of Iowa. Countless combinations of enterprises, land access arrangements, marketing methods, experience levels, and Iowa towns create a comprehensive patchwork of farm entrepreneurs. In the coming months a similarly diverse list of farm mentors will be assigned to these beginners. Mentorship is one core component of the program along with a farm savings account and savings match, Practical Farmers events and networking, business plan development, and staff support.

We will formally introduce the Savings Incentive Program class of 2015 in a few weeks. In the interim familiarize yourself with the previous classes with these links to their bios. As a whole the Savings Incentive Program offers a unique comprehensive view into the future of Iowa’s food and farming landscape.

The Class of 2012 is officially done with the program.

The Class of 2013 is wrapping-up their program work now.

The Class of 2014 is wrapping-up their first season in the program and organizing their efforts for next year.