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Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2016

Contact:  Angela Shepherd   Phone: 828-253-0095 ext 200 Email:

USDA awards $600,000 grant for local farmer collaboration, Farm Pathways


Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Organic Growers School and WNC Farmlink receive federal funding to continue the Farm Pathways collaboration over the next three years.

Asheville, NC – The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), Organic Growers School (OGS), and WNC Farmlink have been awarded a $600,000 federal grant over three years to continue developing Farm Pathways: Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access.  Farm Pathways was selected this year as one of 37 projects across the nation to receive funding from the US Dept. of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which aims to educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers.

“Farm Pathways is an innovative, multi-faceted effort to ensure that farms in our region continue to flourish and provide healthy, locally produced food for our communities,” said Kristy Urquhart, SAHC Associate Director. “Together, our organizations are providing training, farmer-to-farmer networking and farmland access to help beginning farmers in the Southern Appalachians overcome obstacles for successful agricultural enterprises.”

The Farm Pathways collaborative program facilitates educational opportunities, access to land, and ongoing networking and mentoring systems through the start-up years to increase the likelihood of success for beginning farmers.  SAHC, OGS, and WNC Farmlink initially received a $100,000 BFRDP grant, which was used to develop the Farm Pathways program in 2016.

“Our initial Farm Pathways grant enabled the launch of this collaborative program, and we are thrilled that the BFRDP has awarded funds to make it possible for us to continue this important work,” continued Urquhart.

As part of the development of Farm Pathways, SAHC hosts a series of workshops at its Community Farm in Alexander, NC and OGS offers Farm Beginnings, a comprehensive year-long farmer training program.

“We are excited to be able to continue and build on the work we started during our development year,” said Cameron Farlow, OGS. “As a partnership we are poised to not only “fill in the gaps” but to create a new farmer-inspired, collaboratively-driven, and nationally-informed training & land access program of the broadest scope, substance, and merit. As allies we can collectively address the two biggest barriers to farming in our region: training & land access. The potential for positive collective impact is far greater than what we can individually achieve.”

About Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy:

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is a non-profit land trust headquartered in Asheville, NC. Since 1974, SAHC has protected over 70,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland and places for outdoor recreation of the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.  SAHC’s farmland program was initiated in 2005, and focuses on ways to protect working farms and provide access to farmland. As part of For more info, visit

About Organic Growers School:

Organic Growers School is the premier provider of practical organic education in the Southern Appalachians. OGS is building a mutually supportive network of prosperous farmers, productive gardeners and informed consumers engaged in creating healthy communities. Founded in 1993, OGS Farmer Programs offer a variety of training opportunities for on­farm, experiential production training in sustainable & organic agriculture, and comprehensive, whole­farm business planning and management. For more info, visit

About WNC Farmlink:

WNC FarmLink matches farm and forest land owners with new and experienced farmers eager to find land to farm in WNC. The program is a free service to WNC residents. WNCFL offers personalized one­on­one consultation, provides group workshops to help beginning farmers negotiate equitable leases and prepare logistically and financially for long­term land tenure and purchase, which is a major obstacle for beginning farmers. For more info, visit

About the USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program:

The BFRDP supports educational programs to assist beginner farmers and ranchers who have less than 10 years of experience in the industry, including veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. The program supports workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance throughout the United States. With the average age of the American farmer exceeding 58 years, US Dept. of Agriculture recognizes the need to bring more people into agriculture.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

34 Wall Street, Suite 502 • Asheville, NC 28801-2710 Phone: 828.253.0095  •  Website:

Cameron Farlow

Author: Cameron Farlow

Cameron Farlow is the Executive Director of Organic Growers School. Hailing from Greensboro, NC with dairy farming in her blood, she has now made her home in Western NC. After earning her undergraduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, 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. She also brings experience 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. In addition to her work with OGS, Cameron is a dancer, baker and avid adventurer.

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