All of the OGS Farmer Programs are “led & directed” by local farmers. Here are the specific ways:
- Our Farmer Programs Team uses the results of the “Barriers to Farming in WNC” study to strategically guide the OGS farmer programs and partnerships.
- OGS Farmer Programs are strategically guided by both a Farmer Education Committee, which is a subgroup of the OGS Board, as well as a steering committee made up of CRAFT farmers. Members of both these groups are active organic/sustainable small farmers in WNC with 50% of members identified as beginning farmers as defined by the USDA. To ensure that the OGS programs are guided by farmers, these groups meet on a monthly and bi-monthly basis for program design, development, evaluation, and planning.
- Farmer-presenters are chosen, and cultivated from these committees and from the larger sustainable farming community. These farmer-presenters use real-life examples from their own farms in the teaching curriculum and farmer-presenters are encouraged to discuss their failures as well as their successes. Instead of a theoretical approaches, students get direct farmer-to-farmer exposure and peer-to-peer education.
- The OGS staff are themselves farmers. Lee Warren is the founder and manager of Imani Farm in Black Mountain, Nicole DelCogliano is the co-founder, owner, and farm manager at Green Toe Ground Farm in Burnsville, Cameron Farlow, is part of the Hickory Nut Gap Farm and the Lord’s Acre Farm family.