ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Farmers are the foundation of a thriving local food community, and the Organic Growers School was created in 1993 to serve the farming community in the Southern Appalachian region. Nearly 30 years later, OGS offers programming to support farmers at ALL levels, even those who have never planted a single crop!
For those with no farming knowledge or experience, it’s best to start with our Farm Dreams program. This workshop, offered virtually on November 9, 2021 and in-person on February 12, 2022, is an entry-level opportunity to explore what it takes to start a farm business.
A 2019 attendee stated, “Farm Dreams was the best educational program I have taken since finishing my graduate work nearly 25 years ago. It allowed me to learn and explore my ideas of beginning a second career in my life.”
If you’re ready to get some hands-on experience, check out Apprentice Link. This tool connects people who are serious about learning the sustainable farming trade with farmers who are willing to teach them in an apprenticeship setting.
If you already have at least one season of growing experience, then Farm Beginnings is the program for you! This year-long training program is part of a national collaborative, and aims to train the next generation of farmers in the many skills that are required to start and expand a successful equitable farm business: passion, clear goals, production experience, financial and marketing know-how, and more.
If you’ve been growing for at least 3 years independently & want to dig into how to assess, improve and expand your farm business, our Journeyperson Program is the right fit. This program also runs for one year, and provides both advanced training opportunities and mentorship with well-established farmers in the region.
Both the Farm Beginnings and Journeyperson programs are currently accepting applications for the 2021-22 class, and applications are due September 18, 2021. We have scholarship and other funding opportunities, and keep all our program costs low to support the local food economy with affordable organic education.
If you’re looking for some support, but not a formal training program, we also offer Mentor Services independent of our other programs. We will match you with a well-established farmer in the region for either 15 or 30 hours of mentorship.
Finally, our WNC Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) network is a farmer-led effort to bring established farmers, farm apprentices, and aspiring farmers together for year-long training in the art and science of sustainable agriculture, straight from the hearts, mouths, and fields of seasoned local farmers in Western North Carolina (WNC). Anyone interested in farming can join!
A 2018 attendee at a farmer workshop said, “Whether they are new or seasoned farmers, gardeners or homesteaders, OGS consistently goes above and beyond to support this farming community. Having OGS a part of our lives has truly assisted the success of our business.” We are honored to be part of the local food economy, and will continue to offer affordable education to farmers and growers at all levels.
If you have any questions or are interested in any of our farmer programs, visit our website at https://organicgrowersschool.
–Carrie Moran, Organic Growers School