Sign-ups available for upcoming farmer education program

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2018

Organic Growers School’s ​Farm Beginnings Farmer Training​ is partnering with Polk County’s Growing Rural Opportunities in 2018-19 for a yearlong farmer training program.

Farm Beginnings Farmer Training is a 12-month training that uses a mix of farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours and an extensive farmer network, tapping into the knowledge of the western North Carolina agriculture community.

Organic Growers School, which will begin this year’s program in October at the Mill Spring Agricultural Center in Polk County, is currently accepting applications. New in the 2018-19 program will be local farm tours offered by Polk county farmers, plus the support of GRO.

“Connecting farmers to one another is a critical component of success, and providing the education that assures their operation will stand the test of the time is one of the most important things that any organization could do,” said Patrick McLendon, executive director of GRO. “OGS’s program fills a void of training in our region that assures not only are farmers becoming more resilient, but our communities as well.”

Scholarships specifically for residents of Landrum and Polk County will be available through the Polk County Community Foundation.

Farm Beginnings Farmer Training is designed to offer beginning and expanding farmers the practical skills and knowledge needed to start and grow successful long-term farm businesses. With a focus on sustainable agriculture practices, the course is taught by farmers  and agricultural entrepreneurs from across the region, such as Balsam Gardens, Beacon Village, Against the Grain, Green Toe Ground, Rayburn Farm, Bluebird Farm and A Way of Life Farm. The course is open to aspiring, beginning and expanding farmers in western North Carolina and surrounding Southern Appalachian states: Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina.

Applications are being accepted for the program on a rolling basis until Sept. 15. An early bird discount is available for applications received by Aug. 1.

For more information and to apply for Farm Beginnings Farmer Training, people may visit organicgrowersschool.org/farm-beginnings.

– Submitted by Nicole DelCogliano