Farm Beginnings: Year-Long Farmer Training

The Farming Journey

OGS is committed to Steps 1-4 of the farming life cycle (see chart below). We know that farming takes courage, dedication and time. OGS is committed to growing the next generation of farmers by offering a path to success for emerging and expanding growers by providing training and assistance during the start-up years and beyond. The chart below helps us design our programs and tailor them to different levels of emerging farmers. Growing the Next Generation of Farmers chart is available in Word Format or in a .PDF Format.

Who Benefits from Farmer Training?

39Who Benefits from Farmer Training?: Beginning farmers face many challenges, yet thousands are being drawn to an agricultural life. Many are returning veterans, second career seekers, college graduates, and young people with no prior farming experience. OGS Farmer Programs have seen a 75% increase in demand from 2011 to 2014. Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training supports emerging, in-training, start-up, and beginning farmers who have been operating a farm business for 10 years or less. OGS Farmer Trainings serve the Southern Appalachian region including mountain regions of NC, TN, VA, GA, and SC. Our offices are located in Asheville, NC and the majority of our work is conducted in the Mountain counties of Western NC. Our programs focus on the sustainability of whole-farm operations, and are inclusive of farmers of all ages, races, genders, experience levels, and production models. In 2013, 79% of the farmers served through OGS Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) were “limited resource farmers,” as defined by the USDA. Through our Barriers to Farming in WNC” survey, we know that 72% of the respondents have been farming 10 years or less, 48% are under the age of 39, 80% are farming 40 acres or less and 64% are farming less than 10 acres, significantly smaller than the NC average of 168 acres (NC Agriculture Overview).

Growing the Next Generation of Farmers

This worksheet is a tool to help determine where you are on the farming journey and what types of training will help you move forward to the next step.

Step 1: EMERGING – Farm Learning Opportunities & Farm Dreams

    Best Practices for Next Phase:

  • Field days/Skill Sessions/Farm Tour
  • Conferences/Workshops
  • Practice growing where you live.

Step 2: IN-TRAINING – On-farm Training Activities

    Best Practices for Next Phase:

  • Work Exchanges/Internships/Farm Employment
  • Field days/Skill Sessions/Farm Tours
  • Conferences/Workshops

Step 3: START-UP – Farm Beginnings & Farm Pathways

    Best Practices for Next Phase:

  • Year-long training program
  • Whole Farm  & enterprise planning
  • Connection to a farmer network
  • Growing season learning plan
  • On-Farm Field days & workshops

Step 4: SEASONED – Technical Assistance

    Best Practices for Success:

  • Individualized syllabus
  • Production, marketing and financing assistance
  • Address land access/Equity building opportunities
  • Mentorship with an experienced farmer

OGS Farmer Programs are made possible by our farmer network and funding in part by the Community Foundation of WNC,  CLIF Bar Family Foundation, Organic Valley, Simply 1%, Carolina Farm Credit, French Broad Food Co-op, and by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of USDA-NIFA, Grant #2016-70017-25341