Organic Growers School (OGS) is pleased to announce the receipt of a $6,000 grant from the Clif Bar Family Foundation to support the work of our Farm Pathways program.
Farm Pathways is a comprehensive whole farm business-planning curriculum to be built into the existing OGS Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) farmer training program. Our current CRAFT curriculum focuses on organic farm production and is successful in drawing from the experiences of established member farmers to provide training to aspiring growers. By expanding our existing 7-month CRAFT training program into a full-suite, 12-month course, we will better prepare beginning farmers for success. The training will lead to a journeyman farmer certificate as an alternative to a four-year agricultural degree. Additionally, we aim to provide farmer to farmer networking and innovative land access opportunities.
In Western North Carolina, the demand for locally grown food is at an all-time high, but the retention and success rate of new farmers in our area has been disappointingly low. Prospective farmers face many challenges, including access to land, capital, skills, support, and training. There is a strong need for assistance during the transition of new growers into owners of viable commercial operations.
Currently there are no other programs of this scope in our area. And yet we fully realize that the success of beginning farmers and the WNC region are entwined. The expected outcome of the Farm Pathways project is to increase the number of successful farmers in WNC and to create a replicable model of collaborative farmer training usable across the United States. We are committed partners in carving a path to success for beginning farmers in WNC.
Clif Bar Family Foundation supports innovative small and mid-sized groups working to strengthen our food system and our communities, enhance public health, and safeguard our environment and natural resources. Small Grants represent the vast majority of their Grants Programs and account for more than 70% of their total giving. These grants are awarded for general organizational support or to fund specific projects.
Clif Bar Foundations funding priorities are determined from a holistic perspective and are as follows:
- Protect Earth’s beauty and bounty.
- Create a robust, healthy food system.
- Increase opportunities for outdoor activity.
- Reduce environmental health hazards.
- Build stronger communities.
Clif Baf’s goals are progressive and interconnected. As they advance goals in one area, all other areas are affected. From their website:
- A healthier food system improves our air and water quality, creates safer communities and fights climate change by keeping carbon and nitrogen in the soil and reducing the use of petrochemical-based farm inputs.
- Preserving our wild, open places offers us opportunities for vigorous outdoor activity in clean air and water without leaving a large footprint on the land.
- Reducing waste and advancing renewable energy conserves resources, reduces the threat of climate change, improves air and water quality, and creates green businesses and jobs.
- Identifying environmental sources of chronic illnesses, such as breast cancer, can pave the way for action to shift toward organic farming and reduce our reliance on nonrenewable, polluting fossil fuels.
- Bike and pedestrian routes build stronger, healthier communities by creating more green jobs and reducing traffic congestion, carbon emissions, and air pollution.
Based in Asheville, NC, and serving the southern Appalachians, Organic Growers School has been raising awareness and capacity for sustainable food systems and healthy living for 20 years. Since the inception of the CRAFT program in 2008, OGS has supported over 450 farmers and farmworkers with peer-to-peer, practical education. CRAFT is active in 16 counties in Western North Carolina and over the past five years, CRAFT has not only graduated farmers, but also attracted more serious aspiring growers to our region, who have provided dependable labor for existing local farms. These farm workers then go on to seek more training, with the goal of starting their own farm enterprise in the region.
With Clif Bar Foundation’s help we aim to educate, support, and celebrate farmers so that they can build strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems. By keeping food producers in our community, we are supporting local and regional efforts to enhance community food security.
Thank you Clif Bar Foundation!
Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.