COLUMBIA, Mo. — The first “Grow Your Farm” sessions for beginning farmers start Jan. 23 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro.
University of Missouri Extension, through a grant from 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. Debi Kelly, Eleazor Gonzalez and Patricia Barrett 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 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,” she says. Latinos also represent one of the fastest-growing populations of new farm operators.
Jan. 23: MU Extension horticulturist and local foods specialist Debi Kelly speaks on identifying values and creating goals. Matt and Ashley Crull talk about their third-generation Dittmer farm operation. They raise row crops, forage and cattle.
Jan. 30: Amber Henry of Henry Meat Co. talks about “Planning the Farm.” Henry Meat Co., a value-added cattle operation in De Soto, sells beef, pork and lamb.
Feb. 6: Frank Wideman, MU Extension agricultural and natural resources engineer, leads the session on “Walking the Farm.” Cyndi Rousan, district manager of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, talks about federal programs available to help beginning farmers.
Feb. 13: Debi Kelly of MU Extension talks about how to assess opportunities. A farmer also will speak.
Feb. 20: Rachel Hopkins, MU Extension agriculture business specialist, talks about “Keeping Track of Finances.” Sheria Yancey of Farm Services Administration offers information on resources available to farmers.
Feb. 25: Participants will tour the Henry Meat Co.’s farm in De Soto.
Feb. 27: Debi Kelly of MU Extension tells how to market farm products. Eva Christ of Sandy View Acres Farm talks about the 450-acre operation where she and her family raise cattle, soybean, wheat, corn, hay and vegetables. They operate a community-supported agriculture project with their vegetables and direct-market their beef. They also participate in farmers markets. Also speaking is Harold Hamby, owner of Jefferson County’s LaChance Winery. More than 5,000 grapevines grow on the 80-acre De Soto property.
March 6: MU Extension horticulture specialist Rich Hoorman will speak on legal issues affecting rural property owners. Steve Sikes of the Jefferson County Health Department also will present information.
March 11: A tour of Julie’s Produce in De Soto is offered. Julie’s offers fruits, vegetables, eggs, pies and pastries at the De Soto farmers market.
There is a reduced fee of $35 for veterans, Latinos and those from socially disadvantaged groups. There is $130 fee for two attendees from the same farm and an additional $25 fee for each person from the same farm.
For more information, contact Debi Kelly at email@example.com or 636-797-5391. Register by Jan. 18 by sending a check to MU Extension in Jefferson County, P.O. Box 497, Hillsboro, MO 63050.
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 “Promisezone” initiatives.
— Linda Geist, University of Missouri Extension
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