The Christian Science Monitor

Farmers grow the food. But who’s helping new farmers put down roots?

Jan Newman became an accidental alpaca farmer. She took up knitting in the 1990s at home in Palmer, Alaska, to supply her first child with natural-fiber clothing, and one thing led to another. She innovated again in 2013 when she founded Grow Palmer, a public food program that plants edible gardens around town. These days, Ms. Newman is pondering retirement.

“It’s not an easy transition to consider selling the farm,” she says. 

Jennifer T. Sharrock is just starting out. She left an insurance career this year to pursue market farming and permaculture full time through her Seeds and Soil Farm. The beginning farmer began teaching permaculture design three years ago, but her popular classes quickly outgrew her space. Buying more land wasn’t financially feasible.

So she placed an ad in Alaska Farmland Trust’s FarmLink program, a kind of “dating service” for land seekers and owners.

Looking for landSecuring soil for the next generation

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