Solid Ground Training

Ag Mechanic Classes 2023

It’s that time of year again where our Solid Ground Trainings are starting to get their gears rolling!  Kicking it off this season, we’re bringing back the ever popular Chainsaw Skills and Safety program directed toward women, our Beginning WeldeAg mechanics classes 2023 graphic with chainsawsrs Workshops, and an Intro to Carpentry! Each workshop cost $25 and includes lunch. See more info below!

Note: These trainings are intended for production farmers in Connecticut, if you have a hobby farm or are gardening, please reference this other wonderful UConn Extension program here 

Title of class: Chainsaw Class Directed toward Women

Date: Saturday, November 18th

Time: 8:30-4:30

Location: Long Table Farm, 256 Beaver Brook Rd, Lyme, CT

Max Number of participants: 10

Description of class: 

Chainsaw Skills and Safety directed toward Women: Intro to safe chainsaw operation. Students will learn about PPE, work area safety, basic saw maintenance, chain sharpening, and how to develop a felling plan.  Each student will have a chance to fell their own tree.  You may bring your own saw or use one that will be provided by the instructor.



Title of class: Basic Welding for Beginners

Date: Saturday, December 9th

Time: 9am – 3pm

Location: Rockville High School, 70 Loveland Hill Rd, Vernon

Max Number of participants: 10

Description of class:

Intro to the basics of welding. Learn the proper personal protective equipment required and safety protocols to know before getting started. Instructor will go over the fundamentals of MIG and stick welding, teaching you techniques to get welds done safely and efficiently.



Title of class: Power Tool Safety & Carpentry Basics Training

Date: Saturday, December 16th

Time: 9am – 3pm

Location: WorkspaceCT, 16 Trowbridge Dr, Bethel

Max Number of participants: 10

Description of class:

Get familiar with the power tools and carpentry skills that you’ll need on your farm. Learn how to use an impact driver, drill, skill saw, table saw and more. You will work with your new skills to complete a project to take home.



Please contact us 2 weeks in advance with special needs (dietary, translation, accessibility, etc.) We’ll do our best to accommodate you.


FOR ALL WORKSHOPS THAT INCLUDE TRAVEL: If the cost is prohibitive, Travel Stipends will be made available to participants at any event where travel is required to attend 


Please do not attend if you are not feeling well – you will receive a refund.

Solid Ground Stipend Program For Beginning Farmers

We are excited to announce our 2023 Solid Ground Stipend Program! UConn Extension’s Solid Ground Program and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources – Strategic Vision Implementation Committee are pleased to join forces to offer up to $2000 in stipends to new and beginning farmers in Connecticut.

This opportunity is intended for farmers with less than 10 years of experience operating their own business. Stipends can be used to purchase better tools and make upgrades to your operation instead of relying on low cost/low quality inputs.

Please read over the 2023 Guidance on Solid Ground Stipends for Beginning Farmers prior to completing the application. 

Note that priority funding this year will go to:

  • Supporting the success of early phase beginning farmers (those who have been operating their own farm business for 3 years or less)
  • Supporting the viability of farmers/market gardeners who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color
  • Potential of stipend to contribute to conservation of natural resources, climate resilience, climate adaptation, or climate mitigation strategies
  • Applicants who did not receive a Solid Ground Stipend in 2022 will receive priority for funding.  Applicants that were funded in 2022 are still eligible to apply.

Applications are due no later than 5 pm on 3/3/23.  A copy of the application for viewing purposes only can be accessed here: SG Stipend Application – View Only v2   Applications need to be submitted online:   Click here to apply.  

Visit for more info!

Learn How to Fix Your Small Engines on the Farm!

Hey Farmers!
Remember the Solid Ground Ag-Mechanics series?  
Well the next one coming up is…

Small Engine Maintenance and Repairs; 2-Stroke

Saturday Jan. 7th, 9AM-3PM
Nonnewaug Agri-Science High School, Woodbury  Agri-Science High School, CT

Take apart a small engine that you find yourself using on the farm on a regular basis, and then learn how to put it back together again, all the while finding out how it works and how to address common problems.

flyer with text and a wrench

Strengthening Connecticut Farms

Yoko Takemura and Alex Cooper from Assawaga farm enjoy showing off the fruits of their
labor. (Photos courtesy of Assawaga farm).

Over recent years a new cohort of farmers has cropped up in our small state. “New”, “Beginning”, “First-generation”, “Early stage”— these growers have been met by a growing number of training programs to help them get started, improve their production skills, and enhance the viability of their businesses. This is a group of avid learners who are always on the lookout for training opportunities, both online, and in a hands-on classroom setting. Most demonstrate a strong interest in sustainable production of specialty crops to sell directly to consumers through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), farmers’ markets, and farm stands.

In response to the training needs of new farmers, UConn Extension launched the Solid Ground Farmer Training Program, featuring classroom trainings, online tutorials, and state-wide events targeting growers who range in experience from 0 – 10 years of farming. Since 2012, UConn Extension has received over $1.1 million through USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant Program to develop new farmer trainings and resources.

The UConn Extension team hires and schedules trainers, advertises the program, provides in-person staff support at each training, and steers collaboration with the New CT Farmer Alliance and CT NOFA. Partners set training priorities, help recruit participants, and ensure that trainings are happening across the state so that growers can access this learning opportunity in small group settings. These partners include: Grow Windham, Killingly Agricultural Education Program, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Community Farm of Simsbury, Common Ground (New Haven), Green Village Initiative (Bridgeport), Knox (Hartford), and Listo Para Inciar-Urban Agriculture Program, a sister project led by German Cutz, Associate Extension Educator in Fairfield County.

Current and aspiring farmers are welcome to attend as many trainings as they like. Yoko Takemura and Alex Carpenter from Assawaga Farm (Nipmuck for ‘in between’) in Putnam typify clients in the program. Summer 2018 will be their first year of production. Their farm will feature certified organic Japanese vegetables to be sold in Boston area. After attending six Solid Ground trainings, Yoko explains: “As a new farmer, there are many things you don’t know that you don’t know. So, these programs encourage you to ask new questions you hadn’t previously thought of before and therefore to be better prepared for the season. Since many of the trainers are local, the content of the trainings is more relevant (versus online content) and it’s great that you can follow up with them after the training!”

In its first year (winter 2016-17), the Solid Ground Training Program delivered 28 trainings and events with a cumulative attendance of more than 500 participants. Over 30 trainings are currently scheduled for 2018. All trainings are free and open to growers of all backgrounds. UConn Extension provides translation services for Spanish-speaking attendees. Experienced farmers lead training classes such as Season Extension, Eco-Focused Farming, Post-Harvest Handling, Finding Your Market, and Irrigation for Small Farms. Extension educators and professional consultants deliver trainings on Farm Financial Recordkeeping, Soil Health, Cover Crops, Tractor Safety and Maintenance, Fruit Production, and Pesticide Safety.

“The 4-hour intensive Planting and Growing Cover Crop training with Eero Ruuttila was really great because even though his examples were on large scale farms, there were so many ideas that could be translated into my small-scale farm. I thought 4 hours was long, but I definitely wanted it to be longer,” says Yoko. The Solid Ground Program also provides one-on-one consultations with specialists in the areas of farm finance, soil health, and vegetable production. These consultations are intended to build on the knowledge and skills acquired through trainings in the classroom.

     This project is sponsored by the USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Award #2016-70017-25416

Article by Jiff Martin