Michigan State University masthead graphic Michigan State University masthead graphic
Volume 4

Creating Resources for First-Time Farmers

  • Taylor C. Reid
  • Ph.D. student
  • Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies
  • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Taylor Reid at the MSU Student Organic Farm.
Taylor Reid at the MSU Student Organic Farm.

As food systems become increasingly globalized and consolidated, Michigan has experienced a decline in traditional family farms.

MSU Ph.D. student Taylor Reid noticed a reaction to this decline in the form of an increase in demand for locally-grown organic foods and the growth of small, new farms on the urban fringe to meet that demand.

Reid's research focuses on these first-time farmers, their motivations, and the unique obstacles they face. Their dilemmas often include a lack of resources, knowledge, and experience. While this is not always a detriment—lack of traditional knowledge often leads to creative problem-solving—Reid hopes to support first-time farmers in their efforts.

In 2008, Reid launched the Beginning Farmers Web site (beginningfarmers.org) as a resource for new farmers. Reid explained, "By bringing together information and individuals we hope to provide a forum for sharing ideas that facilitate discussion and resources related to the process of starting new farms."