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DSC_0069Organic Growers School has been raising awareness and capacity for sustainable food and farming systems for 20 years. In 2008, OGS created a local chapter of CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) serving Western NC and Southeastern farmers. Since that time,CRAFT has supported over 700 farmers and farmworkers with peer-to-peer, practical education and is active in 14 counties. CRAFT has not only graduated farmers, but also attracted more serious aspiring growers to our region, who have provided dependable labor for existing local farms. Many participants in the CRAFT program have moved on to improve established farm businesses or start new farms in the area. Direct participant feedback has allowed OGS to measure the success of CRAFT.

2015 was a great year for WNC CRAFT, and we want to thank our awesome CRAFT members that led tours and participated in the CRAFT Steering Committee. It is because of you that CRAFT continues to build community, inspire and train new organic & sustainable farmers each year.

Total members 2015: 100 total members

  • 19 Member Farms (farms with apprentices/farm workers)
  • 10 Associate Farms (farms without apprentices/farmworkers)
  • 54 Apprentices/students

Evaluation Results:

Hands-on

Hands-on

  • 79% of farmers have been farming 10 yrs or less
  • 76% are considered limited resource farmers
  • 97% of participants are under the age of 50
  • 59% of participants are female
  • 80% of aspiring farmers/apprentices are interested in farming at some scale in the future
  • 40% plan to farm full time
  • 50% plan to farm as a lifestyle w/ some off farm income
  • 10% plan to work as an agricultural professional
  • 85% – stated that the program positively influenced their farming practices by implements a change to their operation, adding an enterprise, or choosing to start farming

2015 CRAFT Tour Summaries:

Sheep!

Sheep!

  1. April – Second Spring Farm & Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Incubator Farm – Walk Behind Tractor and Handtools for the Market Garden
  2. May – Banner Greenhouse – Large Scale Greenhouse Production
  3. June – Fiddler’s Green Farm – Apprentice Orientation & New Farmer Panel
  4. June – Thatchmore Farm – Hiring & Managing Apprentices Farmer Round Table
  5. June – Patchwork Urban Farms – Multi-plot Urban Farming
  6. July – Goldfinch Gardens – Rotational Grazing with Sheep
  7. August – A Way of Life Farm – Permaculture on a Working Farm
  8. September – Our September farm tour at East Fork Farm, had to be canceled this year due to the increased threat of Avian Bird Flu
  9. October – Full Sun Farm – Small Farm Equipment

Farmer Round Tables:

  1. Defining Success on Your Farm
  2. How to Fire a Crop?
  3. Gadgets & Gizmos

National CRAFT Gathering in Asheville, NC

Now is the time to join CRAFT for 2016! WNC CRAFT is a year-round farmer training collaborative that offers farmers, farm workers and aspiring farmers networking and learning opportunities. For more information or to join,click here. Or contact Cameron Farlow, Organic Growers School Farmer Programs Coordinator at 828.338.9465 or cameron@organicgrowersschool.org

 

Cameron Farlow

Cameron Farlow

Cameron Farlow is the Farmer Programs Director.She grew up in Greensboro, NC with dairy farming in her blood, and has made her home in Western North Carolina. After earning her undergraduate degrees from UNC – Chapel Hill in Anthropology and Geography in 2006, Cameron dove headfirst into the realm of sustainable agriculture and local food systems, and later completed her Master’s Degree in Appalachian Studies and Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University in May 2011. Gaining as much experience as she could she worked with several other regional nonprofits in the realms of farmland preservation, food security, farm to university, and land access for farmers. She came on board with OGS in April 2012. When she isn’t visiting farms all around this end of the state as Farmer Programs coordinator you can usually find her digging in her garden or adventuring alongside her husband Walker, the farm manager at Hickory Nut Gap Farm.