ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Organic Growers School’s Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is entering its fifth year offering a year long farmer training. Organic Growers School has graduated 43 farmers in the last 4 years and will graduate 55 by September 2019. Farm Beginnings® is a 12-month training that uses a mix of farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours, mentorship, and an extensive farmer network, tapping into the knowledge of the most innovative & skilled farmers in Western NC.
According to current student, Dallas Robinson, of Rocky Mount, NC , when asked what has changed for her since starting the class she said, “I feel way more confident and clear. I can now communicate my goals and the amount of intimidation I have has gone way down. I feel like I know what questions I need to ask and where to look to find the answers.”
Organic Growers School (OGS) will begin this year’s program in October 2019 at Creekside Farm & Education Center at Walnut Cove in Arden, NC and is currently accepting applications. The 2019-20 program will continue a partnership with Living Web Farm who offers a diversity of farm and organic living workshops that students will have full access to, in addition to on-farm workshops at the The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Community Farm in Alexander, NC
Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is designed to build the practical skills and knowledge that farmers need to start and grow successful long-term farm businesses. With a focus on sustainable agriculture practices, the course is taught by established farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs from across Western NC, such as Against the Grain, A Way of Life Farm, Beacon Village Farm, Bluebird Farm, Green Toe Ground, and Goldfinch Gardens. The course is open to aspiring, beginning and expanding farmers in Western NC and surrounding Southern Appalachian states – Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Developed to address the needs of the regional farming community Farm BeginningsⓇ Farmer Training offers a comprehensive farmer-led training course to better prepare the next generation of farming professionals in the Southern Appalachians. It is a part of the national Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, with 13 programs in 10 states.
Warren Lee, a current student who travels from Georgia for the class, encourages others to take the course. “This class helps you set out a timeline and allows you to focus in a real way. You are encouraged and supported. Being in a class full of people who are hoping to do the same thing and encouraging you to do the same thing is very motivating.”
The one-year farming training program consists of 200+ hours of training time including: 60 hours of whole farm business planning sessions; 45 hours of production training through field days on sustainable farms around WNC, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Community Farm, and Living Web Farm; 40+ hours of classes at Organic Growers School’s Annual Conferences; and 8 hours at ASAP’s Business of Farming conference. The mentorship component adds an additional 15+ hours of one-on-one guidance from an experienced farmer mentor.
Nicole DelCogliano, Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training Coordinator, states, “Year after year, I see students come in with great ideas, experiences and passion. As they go through the class, I see light bulbs go off as farmer after farmer shares their start up journey, how they financed their farm, and how they chose to grow what they do. It is so amazing to see the pieces come together for aspiring farmers as they take what’s in their mind, and work it out based on what they are learning. It is such an asset to connect them with such experienced and knowledgeable farmers and mentors.”
Dallas Robinson again says, “DO IT!!! You’ll have supportive people who want to do new or radical things along side you in class. I am excited to create more detail around enterprises and the overall operation, to build a viable farm for current and future family. I am excited to see what a young black gay person form eastern NC can bring to Eastern NC.”
Applications will be accepted for the program on a rolling basis until September 15th, 2019. Early bird discount of $100 off for applications received by August 1st. This program is a part of the Farm Pathways project, funded by the USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program, with partners NC Farm Link and the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy. The program fee for the one-year, 200-hour program is $3000, similar to other national and regional year long training courses. Scholarships and payment plans are available. For more information and to apply for Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training visit: www.organicgrowersschool.org/farm-beginnings
Organic Growers School (OGS) is the premiere provider of practical and affordable organic education in the Southern Appalachians, building a vibrant food & farming community by boosting the success of organic home growers and farmers in our region. A 501c3 non-profit, OGS is based in Asheville, NC, and has been serving the region since 1993. Farm Beginnings is funded by USDA BFRDP program and is a partnership of Farm Pathways, including Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and WNC Farm Link.
–Organic Growers School