Farm Beginnings® Overview
Looking to launch or expand your farming business?
Join this 210+ hour Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training Program!
Many skills are required to start a successful farm: passion, clear goals, production experience, financial and marketing know-how, and more. The Farm Beginnings® class is a 12-month training session that helps beginning farmers clarify their goals and strengths, establish a strong enterprise plan and start building their operation. The course uses a mix of farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours, and an extensive farmer network. Farm Beginnings® is designed for new and prospective farmers who want to plan a profitable farm business. Students do not need to currently own land, but some farming or production experience is helpful to get the most out of the class.
2017-2018 Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is 210+ Hours including:
- Winter Whole-Farm Business Planning Courses – 60 hours (October – March)**
- ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference (February) – 8 hours
- OGS Spring Conference (March) & Harvest Conference (September) – 40+ hours
- Mentorship with an experienced Farmer Mentor (March – September) – 10-15 hours
- Production Training – 45 hours (April – October): WNC CRAFT tours on sustainable farms around WNC & Field Days at the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Incubator Farm
- One year WNC CRAFT Farmer Network membership – Membership and mentoring in a regional farmer network
**Location of Winter Sessions: Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Incubator Farm at 180 Mag Sluder Rd. Alexander, NC 28701 (just 15 minutes from Asheville, NC) View map here.
What I got from Farm Beginnings is a real understanding of what it actually takes to have a farm. Before going into the program I had a lot of lofty dreams about living a bucolic life. This class really taught me what it takes and the hard work that goes into farming by introducing us to real farmers and getting real numbers. It was also a really great way to connect to other local farmers and people who are just starting out, in order to create a network of folks who have the same passion and vision.Quinn Asteak
Curriculum & Schedule
Tuition & Scholarships
Learn more about tuition, scholarship, and payment plan opportunities here.
Goals for Participants
Through Farm Beginnings® you can:
- Tap into knowledge of some of the most innovative & skilled farmers operating in WNC through farmer instructors and experience farmer mentors.
- Build a strong peer-to-peer farmer network for skill sharing, problem solving, and mentoring for success through the mentorship program and networking opportunities.
- Learn critical farm management skills such as creative financing and innovative marketing strategies through winter classroom courses.
- Experience sustainable practices on real farms under a variety of conditions through on-site production training.
- Learn to view a farm as an interconnected system and how holistic goals help determine success.
- Craft YOUR tailor-made farm plan.
Why Train Farmers?
The OGS Farmer Programs have trained more than 600 farmers and farmers workers and saw a 75% increase in demand for training from 2011 to 2014. Farming takes courage and perseverance, dedication and time. Few who start and aspire to farm will be able to succeed without help. Learn more about why farmer training is important. Learn more about the farming journey.
The National Collaborative
Organic Growers School is a member of Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers and farmer-training support organizations working together to promote Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training. The Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, includes ten organizations with programs serving beginning farmers in 13 states and focused on a model of farmer training that is community based, rooted in sustainable principles, and farmer led.
The Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training program offered through Organic Growers School is based in Asheville, NC and serves the Southern Appalachians. The program features all the best in regionally-centered curriculum as well as the collective wisdom of the national alliance.
Farm Beginnings Collaborative Facts & Milestones:
- More than 250 aspiring farmers have completed Farm Beginnings.
- 42 farmers and their families have started their own independent farm businesses with the support of FARMroots.
- Graduate farmers sell a variety of vegetables, specialty herbs, pastured poultry, eggs, cut and potted flowers, honey, small fruits and plants at nearly 60 farmers markets throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley.
- Graduate farmers keep a total of 400 acres of farmland in production.
- 7 graduate farmers have purchased farmland, and collectively own 72 acres.
- 5 graduate farmers have long-term leases with landowners.
- 9 graduate farmers sell through 18 CSAs city-wide, providing approximately 1,100 individual shares.
- Graduate farmers are extremely effective at reaching low-income customers, selling at 23 farmers markets and 10 CSAs in low-income neighborhoods.
If you have any questions about this program, please contact Nicole, Farmer Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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%, New Belgium Brewing, Carolina Farm Credit, French Broad Food Co-op, and by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of USDA-NIFA, Grant #2016-70017-25341. Read more about Farmer Programs' Funding Partners here.