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 Organic Growers School’s Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training in Western NC  Open for Applications!

Organic Growers School’s Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is entering its sixth year offering a year long farmer training. Organic Growers School has graduated 61 farmers in the last 5 years and will graduate 76  by September 2020.  Farm Beginnings® is a 12-month training that uses a mix of farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours, mentorship, and an extensive farmer network, tapping into the  knowledge of the most innovative & skilled farmers in Western NC. During this current pandemic, the role of farmers and how food gets to our tables has been more at the forefront of conversations. Many individuals right now are expressing interest in growing their own food and developing more self sufficiency and land based skills. If you want to farm, it has never been easy and if you want to get into farming now, it is time to do so with the right support and training on how to be adaptive and resilient, like our Farm Beginnings training.

“The timing of this course was spot on. We learned what we needed and learned more than we knew we did, so thankful!”

Current Students: Stephanie Vinat and Jeremiah Batla of the Appalatin Farmstead

Organic Growers School (OGS) will begin this year’s program in October 2020 in Sylva, NC at Southwestern Community College and is currently accepting applications. We are planning in person classes at this time while developing online modules if needed. The 2020-2021 program will be a partnership with Empowering Mountain Food Systems and the Small Business Center at Southwestern Community College. We continue our partnerships with  Living Web Farm  in Mills River and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Community Farm in Alexander, NC for one farm learning. Both of these organizations offer a diversity of farm and organic living workshops that students will have full access to. Empowering Mountain Food Systems is offering scholarships for residents in Jackson, Swain, Macon, Graham, Cherokee,  Haywood and Clay counties. 

Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is designed to build the practical skills and knowledge that farmers need to start and grow successful long-term farm businesses. The need for adaptive and resilient farm businesses is even more critical as the pandemic reveals weaknesses within our food system. Creating a robust farming business community in WNC is critical to long term success of regional agriculture. The class has a focus on sustainable agriculture practices and holistic management for making informed and thoughtful business decisions. The course is taught by established farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs from across Western NC, such as Against the Grain, A Way of Life Farm, Beacon Village Farm, Bluebird Farm, and Off Grid in Color. The course is open to aspiring, beginning and expanding farmers in Western NC and surrounding Southern Appalachian states – Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina.

The course is facilitated by Nicole DelCogliano of Green Toe Ground farm and she brings over 2 decades of agricultural experience to helping support new and beginning farmers. “I am so invested in seeing new farmers succeed. During this pandemic, I have seen graduates of Farm Beginnings pivot quickly to adapt, engage with other farmers and their community networks to stay informed and connected. I have been so impressed and also see how hard it can be when things change so rapidly.” The course prepares beginning farmers to have the systems they need in place to be adaptive and resilient, such as record keeping, cash flow management, payroll and employment information, insurance, marketing and adaptive decision making. All of these are needed  to create a robust regional farming community. Farm Beginnings Farmer Training offers a comprehensive farmer-led training course to better prepare the next generation of farming professionals in the Southern Appalachians. It is a part of the national Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, with 13 programs in 10 states.  


The one-year farming training program consists of 200+ hours of training time including: 60 hours of whole farm business planning sessions; 45 hours of production training through field days on sustainable farms around WNC, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Community Farm, and Living Web Farm; 40+ hours of classes at Organic Growers School’s Annual Conferences; and 8 hours at ASAP’s Business of Farming conference. The mentorship component adds an additional 15+ hours of one-on-one guidance from an  experienced farmer mentor.

Applications will be accepted for the program on a rolling basis until  September 15th, 2020. Early bird discount of $100 off for applications received by August 1st. This program is a part of the Farm Pathways project, with  partners NC Farm Link and the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy. The program fee for the one-year, 200-hour program is $3000, similar to other national and regional year long training courses. Scholarships and payment plans are available. For more information and to apply for Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training visit:

Organic Growers School (OGS) is the premiere provider of practical and affordable organic education in the Southern Appalachians, building a vibrant food & farming community by boosting the success of organic home growers and farmers in our region. A 501c3 non-profit, OGS is based in Asheville, NC, and has been serving the region since 1993. 




Nicole DelCogliano

Author: Nicole DelCogliano

Nicole DelCogliano is Farmer Program Coordinator at OGS. She teaches the year long Farm Beginnings program to new and beginning farmers. She also farms in Yancey County with her husband, at Green Toe Ground farm.

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