Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT)
WNC CRAFT is a farmer-led coalition & coordinated effort to bring established farmers, farm apprentices, and aspiring farmers together for a year long training in the art and science of sustainable agriculture, straight from the hearts, mouths, and fields of seasoned local farmers in Western North Carolina (WNC).
Not from our region? Visit www.craftfarmer.org to connect with a CRAFT group near you,
or learn how to start your own!
Who is WNC CRAFT for?
Whether you’re a complete farming novice, working on a farm, starting your farm from scratch or adding a new enterprise, CRAFT can serve farmers & aspiring farmers of any experience level! Join online today, or Download a membership form today and be a part of this important regional effort to strengthen the future of sustainable farming in the Southern Appalachians.
Membership is open year-round, so you may join anytime. Membership fees range $20 – $40 per year and gives members access to a wealth of summer farm tours, winter workshops, local farming resources, and a community of farmers.
What Does WNC CRAFT Membership Get You?
The success of WNC CRAFT is simple – farmers learn best from other farmers. Farmer driven and farmer led, CRAFT cultivates successful farmers of all levels in Western NC through:
- On-farm tours & potlucks held monthly from April – October that focus on a specific aspect of sustainable farming. Read about past WNC CRAFT farm tours on the OGS blog.
- A comprehensive CRAFT Farming Handbook rich in farmer generated, regionally specific information on all aspects of farming rooted in the valuable wisdom of CRAFT farmers in the Southern Appalachians.
- Winter “roundtable” style workshops that are a place for farmers to come together to discuss advanced farming topics.
- Access to a social network and supportive community of farmers and farm workers built on a farmer-to-farmer exchange of ideas.
Why join CRAFT?
- Increased camaraderie between local farmers; a forum for “shop talk”, and idea-exchange on everything from what kind of irrigation fittings are best to how to structure farm labor.
- Creates a support network for beginning and experienced farmers building community in the region.
- Provides a social scene for farm interns. Getting off the farm once a month and networking with folks who are immersed in a similar experience is a breath of fresh air.
- Enhance and strengthen your apprenticeship program by expanding the training opportunities beyond your farm and methods, and share the mentoring responsibilities with the CRAFT community of farmers.
- CRAFT farmers attract serious aspiring farmers, because they are visibly committed to training. This influx of aspiring commercial growers results in dependable seasonal labor, and more promise for the future of our region’s agriculture.
- CRAFT and Organic Growers School materials offer advertisement for member farms, from newsletters to web listings and videos, CRAFT farms are visible to other interns as well as consumers.
- Apprentice Link services are available through OGS, to assist farmers and interns in finding one another. Additionally, advice is available on how to structure your internship program, and how to become an effective farm mentor.
What WNC CRAFT Members Say
- “These farmers really do their homework. [At one farm] they showed us products and systems that we had not seen or read about elsewhere. Another benefit of any tour, but particularly these, is being able to ‘get behind the hype’. To me that means hearing the failures and questions a farmer has, the things he/she is experimenting with. You can’t get this any other way than at a CRAFT tour. And, meeting the farmers and the interns and having time to talk, allows us all to build a network of help and sharing and spreads good practices farther and faster.”
- “Believe it or not, hosting an event this year was incredibly eye opening. Having other farmers and apprentices out to see our farm and our operations created dialogue about opportunities that I could not see with my own eye. When you can see your farm through the eyes of farmers you respect and trust, you can gain perspective on your farm’s challenges and assets.”
- “CRAFT has opened my eyes to many of the aspects I need to consider when making plans. Seeing and hearing other farmer’s successes and struggles has been a great help.”
- “CRAFT has been such a valuable aspect of my apprenticeship this year. Seeing other vegetable farms and hearing lots of information from new farmers, getting the overall feel of farming has been awesome.”
CRAFT is made possible by our farmer members and funding in part by the Community Foundation of WNC, CLIF Bar Family Foundation, UNFI Foundation and the the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2015-70017-22854