ROLLA, Mo. — Grow Your Farm sessions for beginning farmers start Feb. 25 at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla.
University of Missouri Extension, through a grant from the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach to help veterans, Latinos and socially disadvantaged persons who want to farm, offers the program to increase agribusinesses and enterprise development. Karen Funkenbusch serves as director. Patricia Barrett, Debi Kelly and Eleazor Gonzalez serve as co-directors.
The USDA 2501 grant helps beginning farmers and others evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Participants attend a set of practical seminars and field days to learn from MU Extension specialists, farmers and agribusiness operators. The grant comes at a critical time, Funkenbusch says. More than 300,000 veterans are expected to return to their rural Missouri roots in the next decade. “Many of them will seek work in agriculture,” Funkenbusch says. Latinos also represent one of the fastest-growing populations of new farm operators.
• Feb. 25. Debi Kelly, MU Extension horticulture specialist, and Patricia Barrett, MU Extension agricultural business specialist, open the event with “Identifying Values and Creating Goals.”
• March 4. MU Extension agricultural engineer Charles Ellis speaks on “Walking the Farm.”
• March 11. Patricia Barrett speaks on “Planning the Farm.” Sandy Nelson, owner of Box Turtle Farms and manager of the Camdenton Farmers Market, shares her experiences as a small farmer. She sells produce, jams and jellies, and homemade dog treats at farmers markets.
• March 18. Barrett and Mike Bottoms of Knee Deep Farms of Cuba, Mo., speak on “Assessing Business Opportunities.” The farm is part of the Agrilicious food movement.
• March 25. Barrett gives information on “Keeping Track of Finances.”
• April 1. Barrett and David Middleton of Lincoln University speak on “Marketing Farm Products.”
• April 8. Barrett presents on “Rural Legal Issues.”
• April 22. Farmer presentations.
There also will be farm tours. Locations and dates have not been announced yet.
Except for farm tours, events will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bertelsmeyer Hall on the Missouri S&T campus, 11th and N. State streets, Rolla.
There is a reduced fee of $35 for veterans, Latinos and those from socially disadvantaged groups. There is a $130 fee for two attendees from the same farm and a $25 fee for each additional person from the same farm.
Contact Patricia Barrett at 573-369-2394 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Register by Feb. 21 at the MU Extension Center in Miller County, 134 Second St., P.O. Box 20, Tuscumbia, MO 65082.
USDA helps fund this program as part of an $8.4 million set of grants to 24 states through the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program. As part of the grant, MU Extension also will offer “Understanding the Alphabet Soup of USDA Programs” near military bases and areas identified by USDA as “StrikeForce” and “Promise Zone” initiatives.
— Linda Geist, University of Missouri Extension
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