The Rural Action Incubator Farm application is open for the 2023 growing season! The Incubator Farm is designed to provide accessible land, educational resources, and startup capital for beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs. We do this to revitalize the Chesterhill region and grow a sustainable agriculture economy to strengthen Appalachian Ohio.

The Rural Action Incubator Farm program helps new farmers start their own sustainable enterprises from the ground up. We provide a package of services to support the process of starting a farm business at the Rural Action Incubator Farm (located at 8380 Wagoner Road, Chesterhill, Ohio 43728). By utilizing shared resources; existing infrastructure, land, and on-site market access; and Rural Action’s network of educators, we are able to help new farmers begin their enterprise.


The Incubator Farm program does not fully cover the costs of beginning your farm. First year participation is $100/year, second year is $200/year, and third year is $300/year. Full fee is due at the start of the season.

Costs covered by the program:

  • ¼ acre plot in Incubator Farm field at the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA)
  • Free registration to Whole Farm Planning & Mentoring series
  • Access to shared-used BCS tractor
  • Access to water
  • Support from farmer mentors and Rural Action staff
  • Free registration to all Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture farming workshops

Costs NOT covered by the program:

  • Annual fee
  • Water bill based on meter reading
  • Transportation
  • Seeds/Transplants
  • Compost and other soil amendments
  • Packaging materials (for sale on-site)
  • Farm labor
  • Specialized equipment
  • Commercial Liability Insurance
  • Commercial Kitchen Access for washing/packing/processing

All costs not included in the participant agreement are the responsibility of the Lessee.

The Incubator Farm is adjacent to the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA) in Chesterhill, OH (about 30 minutes northeast of Athens). At the CPA, we are busy finding every opportunity to support our local food economy. The growing season keeps us on our feet with produce auctions twice a week and livestock/wood product auctions every second Saturday of the month, March through December. Throughout the warm months, we see thousands of pounds of beautiful produce make its way across the auction floor, traveling a short distance between the grower’s hands and the consumer’s. This meeting ground for farmers, community members, local businesses, and food-lovers of all ages, is just one piece of the local food system. During these winter months, we are making plans for how we can support beginning farmers. Because without farmers, we have no local food system.

There is a growing need for young farmers and the resources to support them. The average age of a farmer in Ohio is 56 years old. As more and more farmers retire, they are looking to the next generation to take up the essential work of producing food. However, given the loss of family farms in America over the past 80 years, many young people lack the experience and generational wisdom to begin farming. This is where innovative programs like Rural Action’s Incubator Farm can play a pivotal role.

We know that young people all over the country aspire to live closer to the land and to grow food for their community. While our collective culture has been distanced from our farming history over the years, we see the resurgence of aspiring farmers who have lots of energy but few resources. The Incubator Farm program gives beginning farmers access to land, education, startup capital, and one-on-one mentorship. Participants can take one up to three years to practice growing organic produce, marketing their products, building a customer base, and trialing certain varieties. They receive on-farm assistance from experienced farmers and an immediate market for their produce at the Chesterhill Produce Auction, should they choose to sell there. The Incubator Farm hopes to be the farmer grandparent that beginning farmers never had.

We want to see our community flourish with small and sustainable farms. The more that we can support beginning farmers, the better we can create a healthy food system that lasts for generations.

This program is for individuals willing to commit both the time and money needed to launch a business. A basic knowledge of farming principles prior to entering the program is strongly recommended. Business planning assistance and on-farm support from existing farmers during the season is included in the program. For applicants without prior experience, more in-depth farmer training is available through our network of partners and peer educators.

The Rural Action Incubator Farm is seeking participants for the 2023 growing season. Deadline to apply is May 1st! Contact Emily Elam at with any questions or concerns.