New American Farmer Teaching Resources

These tools have brought together the best practices in the country for refugee and immigrant farmer education.”

-Nick Wuertz, Director of Refugee Community Services at Lutheran Services in Iowa

See and search the over 60 training and technical assistance (T&TA) resources (below), primarily for New American audiences and the programs that serve them. New Americans include refugees, asylees, and immigrants who are part of the current and next generation of beginning farmers in the U.S. and Canada.

This resource library is the result of a 3-year partnership between ISED Solutions and 18 beginning farmer incubators, through a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) Educational Enhancement initiative titled Educational Tools and Methods for Beginning Refugee & Immigrant Farmers. Our intent has been to develop and share resources that facilitate high quality instruction and hands-on assistance using a combination of carefully-designed tools and techniques. These resources can be freely downloaded and used as is, or adapted to meet the specific capacities and priorities of a specific program or setting. These teaching resources and handbook are appropriate to use with any beginning farmer audiences whose learning needs and styles vary because of education, language, literacy, and/or cultural factors. ISED expresses gratitude to all the partners who shared in the development of these resources. Individuals and organizations involved in specific resource development are identified within.

Curriculum development

This document lists the newly developed and enhanced teaching resource created for projects working with New American farmers, and includes an overview of the core skills taught in that lesson. Core skills refer to concepts and skills that are central to farmer training programs. The teaching resources reference here were developed collaboratively by the Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED Solutions) and 18 refugee farmer training programs across the country. 

Introduction to the Incubator

Background Information on New Americans’ is a compilation of resources about refugees and special immigrants actively participating in refugee agriculture programs at the  International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, VA. The information originates from a variety of sources including the IRC itself and the Department of Health and Human Services. It provides abbreviated information about the cultural practices and context from which resettled people hail, with an emphasis on diet, food traditions and agricultural

Production Skills

The BCS Safety Checklist and Parts Diagram is a resource designed to be incorporated into a field workshop to train multi-farming and language/literacy farmers how to safely operate and maintain a BCS machine and roto-tiller attachment. This resource should be used by staff as a guide to teach farmers during a workshop, but can also stand alone as a handout or sign after an initial workshop. Staff will use hands-on demonstration to show farmers how to operate machines and attachments.

Pest Management

Shell beans are an important crop to farmers, but (and because of how much they are grown) they face significant pest pressure on the farm. We worked with our local extension agent to put together accurate, useful, and accessible organic management options for the two most important pests on our farm: Mexican bean beetle and leaf hopper.

Crop Planning

This Bed Planning tool is used to assist farmers in knowing which crops to plant in each bed and when to plant them. Each bed marker is filled out either by staff ahead of time, or by farmers in a class session using their crop calendars and crop rotation plot maps. The bed markers are then placed in each bed at the farm. This tool was developed to increase farmer independence through simple tools, as farmers were not consulting their notebooks weekly and/or had difficulty reading their crop calendars throughout the season. You can add cover crop rotations, succession planting, and multiseason planting. Using these tools allows farmers to quickly look at the upcoming dates, prepare their beds, and plant their seeds in the right bed and at the right time. They are laminated and tape is used for writing in permanent marker (on top of tape), so that they can be recycled and used year after year.

Teaching Methodology

Curriculum development

These best practices are the result of a collaborative process between ten New American farmer training programs. Over a three year period, these programs implemented new teaching resources and methods. These practices represent effective and relevant teaching practices for farmer training with farmers with educationally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Crop Planning

This guide covers essential components of crop planning. Participants will learn how to fill out and complete a production plan, determine transplants needed, complete a seed order using the seed calculator tool, and weigh and bag direct-planted or direct-seeded crops. At the end, farmers will be prepared with all their seeds for spring and summer planting and the crop production information needed for the upcoming year. This teaching resource was developed by Transplanting Traditions in Chapel Hill, NC in partnership with the Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED Solutions). Refugee farmer training programs across the country provided feedback on this lesson, which is now integrated throughout the guide.

Crop Planning

This series of six workshops covers a range of topics related to crop planning. Farmers will be introduced to the concepts of harvest windows, succession planting, and days to maturity. Multiple sessions help farmers learn how to use calendars and tables to plan their growing season. One session teaches participants how to handle orders from customers and restaurants, and plan cropping and harvest schedules accordingly. Most of the workshops are appropriate for beginning- to intermediate-level farmers.

Crop Planning

Production Skills

This is a resource designed to provide farmers with readily accessible, technical information and cultural practices for organic vegetable production without relying on advanced English literacy skills. This manual can be introduced in pre-season crop planning settings and subsequently used throughout the planting season. Though the practices and suggested planting dates presented are specific to our New England growing season, the icons can be easily modified to represent practices and timing suited to your farm and locale.


This is a lesson for identifying a new farmer’s English skills, particularly related to farming and selling produce. This lesson includes a series of activities to test English comprehension and speaking as well as an activity to let farmers identify the farming topics where they need more English language skills.