Organic Growers School: Farm Beginnings

Would you help us provide the Farm Beginnings® education to students with the passion and interest in growing food for our region? These students enrich our communities! Check out some of our graduates from past years and donate here.

Krista Wesch & Stephen Rosenthal

Krista Wesch & Stephen Rosenthal

Class of 2016–2017

Stephen and Krista started New Roots Market Garden after their year in Farm Beginnings® and a year apprenticing with Goldfinch Gardens. They manage a Certified Naturally Grown CSA and sell their fresh vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and flowers at farmers markets and a few restaurants, staying small, personal and local. New Roots started their first CSA season in 2018, their second growing season. They continue to be involved with OGS by helping panel the Farm Dreams workshops and remaining involved in the CRAFT Network.

Lorri Bura & Rich Steinhoff

Lorri Bura & Rich Steinhoff

Class of 2015–2016

Lorri Bura and Rich Steinhoff are the co-owners of Green Heart Gardens, the first certified organic hemp farm in NC. Hemp plus medicinal herbs are the focus of their farm in  Candler. According to Lorri, “I learned more of the business end and how to plan for profit [with Farm Beginnings®]. Organic Growers School and their Farm Beginnings® Program has helped me become a profitable, sustainable, organic farmer.” During the class, they were interested in learning how to make their medicinal herb growing a more viable business that provides them with some income and serves the public through education.

Headwaters Market Garden

Class of 2017–2018

Will and Savannah Salley owners and operators of Headwaters Market Garden located just north of Asheville, NC. The farm is located on the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy’s Community Farm. We are a small, low-till, biointensive, mixed vegetable farm focusing on “quality over qanutity.” Farm Beginnings helped us focus on the fundamental aspects of operating a successful farm business like budgeting, accounting, record keeping, marketing and sales. Heading into our third growing season we are excited to build on the knowledge gained from Farm Beginnings.

 

Black Trumpet Farm
Black Trumpet Farm

Black Trumpet Farm

Class of 2017-2018

Gwen and Jay started Black Trumpet Farm in 2017 after many years of dreaming and planning.Black Trumpet Farm offers reliable, year round production of fresh herbs and mushrooms. Farm Beginnings helped solidify our grand schemes and provided structure as we took the plunge into small business ownership.  We also gained an invaluable friend and contact within the WNC farm community through the mentorship opportunity.  As Farm Beginnings graduates, we feel better prepared to face the challenges of combining entrepreneurship with organic farming .

Mary Carol & Griffin Dodd

Mary Carol & Griffin Dodd

Red Scout Farm

Class of 2015–2016

Mary Carol and Griffin Dodd own and operate Red Scout Farm in Black Mountain, NC. “We relied heavily on the farmer mentors we established relationships with during Farm Beginnings®, asking them for equipment recommendations when we were first starting out, as well as using their experience as a framework for understanding the realistic side of what starting our own farm would look like.”

Delia Jovel Noemi

Delia Jovel Noemi

Tierra Fertril

Class of 2021

As an immigrant from the war-ravaged country of El Salvador and with no formal experience, Delia Noemi Jovel Duhon saw farming as an opportunity to access collective power, autonomy, resilience, and economic and food sovereignty. For Delia, farming is also a political tool to promote social and climate justice, community organizing, and human and economic development among BIPOC communities.

The Tierra Fertil Coop LLC is a worker-owner, one-acre organic cooperative farm led by five Hispanic community members in Henderson County on shared land. Delia participated in the Farm Beginnings program at Organic Growers School as a founding member of the cooperative, growing mainly vegetables, some fruits, and flowers. She subsequently founded a food bank, ABUNDANCIA.

 

Soil shine family photo
Olivia and Rocky Ramos

Olivia and Rocky Ramos

Soil Shine Farm

Class of 2018

Soil Shine Farm & Ferments is a small family farm in Celo, NC, run by Olivia and Rocky Ramos. We grow just under 2 acres of vegetables that we ferment into all-natural, probiotic sauerkrauts, kimchi, seasonal pickles, and hot sauces. We grow our ingredients using biodynamic, no-till, organic, and regenerative practices. Our ferments are available at the Yancey County Farmers Market and in stores & food hubs in Burnsville, Celo, Bakersville, and Boone. Olivia graduated from the Farm Beginnings program in 2018 which helped her develop a value-added business plan.

 

Justin Jones of Alta Vista Farm at market stand - photo
Justin Jones

Justin Jones

Altavista Farm

Class of 2021

Justin hails originally from coastal NC and moved to the Triangle area for college. He worked for a few farms in rural Orange County outside of Chapel Hill moving to WNC fall of 2020 to start Alta Vista Farm and enrolled in OGS Farm Beginnings. He graduated from Farm Beginnings in 2021. After one year as a resident at the SAHC community farm incubator program, he shifted his farm to Sandy Mush winter of 2021/2022. Alta Vista Farm sells sustainably grown produce at Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville on Saturdays and Smather’s Farmers & Public Market in Canton on Thursdays.

 

ed graves and kp whaley
Ed Graves, KP Whaley

Ed Graves, KP Whaley

Tiny Bridge Farm

Class of 2019

Ed moved to Western North Carolina in 2009 after earning degrees in agriculture and rural sociology from the University of Wisconsin. He worked on organic farms through high school and college and in public libraries for 20 years. His love of eating fresh local food in season drives our farming.

You can find KP in Asheville during the week managing nonprofit community radio station AshevilleFM. He grew up around farms but learned more about management, business, and marketing through a career in food cooperatives, worker collectives, and public radio. For KP, the thread between local food and grassroots radio builds community power over corporate control.

“We are committed to providing fresh, local food grown according to organic standards, and we are Certified Naturally Grown. We rely on a small crew paid a living wage planting, weeding, picking, washing, and packing. Now in our fourth growing season of providing CSA farm shares, we take farm share sign-ups annually in January, or you can also find us at the Hendersonville Farmer’s Market, the Flat Rock Farmer’s Market, and the Polk County Winter Market.”

 

Karl & Erica of Seven Oaks
Karl & Erica

Karl & Erica

Seven Oaks Farm

Class of 2019

Karl and Erica originally met while working for different farms selling at the same farmers’ market. They started Seven Oaks Farm in 2020 after spending a combined 12 years apprenticing on farms, attending farming conferences, and in Karl’s case completing Farm Beginnings in 2019. They use low-till, no-spray practices to grow good food and healthy soil.

 

For questions, please contact our Director of Programs & Human Resources, Nicole DelCogliano, at nicole@organicgrowersschool.org

OGS Farmer Programs are made possible by our farmer network and our funding partners: Blooming Prairie Foundation, Community Foundation of WNC, CLIF Bar Family Foundation, Cornell Douglas Foundation, Harry Chapin Foundation, New Visions Foundation, Patagonia, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, UNFI Foundation, Walnut Cove Members Association, WNC Bridge Foundation, and USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Award #2021-70033-35717. Our Growth Partners (year-round program support) are: Carolina Farm Credit, Buchi,  Living Web Farms, and Gaia Herbs. Our Media Sponsors are WNCW, Asheville FM and Blue Ridge Public Radio.

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