Organic Growers School: Farm Beginnings

FAQs & How to Apply

 

Applications for 2022-2023 are open!

Deadline September 28th, 2022

FAQs

What can I expect during the application process?

Applications will be reviewed by the OGS Farmer Programs team and accepted on the basis of applicant experience, farmer and farm readiness, and your stage in The Farming Journey. Each applicant may be asked to do an informal interview—either in person or by phone—to discuss the program and determine if Farm Beginnings® is a good match for the potential participant’s needs.

 

What is the total time commitment for the program?

Class sessions will be on Thursday evenings 6-8:30 pm and 6-6:30 pm will be “office hours” when virtual. In person classes will be 6-9 pm.  At this time, we are considering a hybrid course, with some course sessions happening in-person and some continuing to be virtual. This will be determined based on participant input and the current state of COVID-19.

More detail on each component:

 Winter Course Sessions—October–March (12 sessions at 2.5 – 3 hours each)

ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference—February (full day conference)

OGS Spring Conference—March (2-3 days)

Mentorship with an experienced Farmer Mentor—March–September (15 hours)

Production Training: WNC CRAFT tours on sustainable farms around WNC  monthly April–October, optional field days at: Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Incubator Farm  

WNC CRAFT Farmer Network: Membership and mentoring in a regional farmer network—12 months

 

 

 

What are the plans due to COVID-19?

At this time, we are considering a hybrid course, with some course sessions happening in-person and some continuing to be virtual. This will be determined based on participant input and the current state of COVID-19.

 

What is the program schedule?

Farm Beginnings® includes a variety of educational opportunities: business planning courses, conferences, farm tours, mentoring, and networking—all led by experienced farmers. All winter classes will be on Thursday evenings 6-8:30 pm, with 6-6:30 office hours for virtual classes. If it is an in-person  class, it will be from 6-9 pm.

The 2022–2023 Farm Beginnings® curriculum & schedule is currently being revised. The 2021-2022 schedule can be found_here

Who should apply?

People considering full-time farming, farming part-time while continuing other employment, changing careers to start farming,  or developing an existing agricultural hobby into a more serious business activity, should apply. Students do not need to currently own land, but 1 season minimum experience of doing farming or garden work in the last five years is required.

Not you? Don’t fret! We have programs applicable to all stages of farming education. Complete the Growing the Next Generation of Farmers Worksheet to determine the best place for you to plug into our training programs.

What are the requirements for admission?

Dedication to a full-time or part-time farming career.

Commitment to participate in a minimum of 12–20 hours of training per month for the entirety of the year

Willingness to be a learner, to make this investment and commitment, make time to read, think, plan, dream, and integrate. Your engagement is crucial.

Minimum experience of one season doing farm/garden/nurserty/forestry work in the last five years.

Not you? Don’t fret! We have programs applicable to all stages of farming education. Complete the Growing the Next Generation Worksheet or visit The Farming Journey page to determine the best place for you to plug into our training programs.

What is the course fee and are there payment options?

The course fee for 2022-2023 is $3000 and applies to a farm unit (1–2 individuals who are business partners, family members or life partners). The program allows two partners who apply and are accepted together to benefit from the dual enrollment. If you are applying with a farm partner, they must also fill out the entire application. Space is limited.

If you are unable to pay the full course fee, do not be deterred! Scholarships and payment plans are available and we encourage you to apply. Both farm partners must apply if they are requesting a scholarship.  Learn more on our Tuition & Scholarships page.

If accepted in Farm Beginnings®, the course fee is due either in full or as a down payment by October 10th to secure your spot in the course. Payments can be made online via credit card or via check. Checks must be RECEIVED by October 10th.  We will provide further instructions for making payment following acceptance in the program.

How do I apply?

We are now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 class.

You can apply using the online application.

What should my completed application contain?

Application Check List (only complete applications will be reviewed):

  • Farm Beginnings Primary Application
    • 2 references (2 professional)
  • Farm Beginnings Partner Application (optional)
    • 2 references (2 professional) for partner if applying
  • Scholarship Application (optional)
  • Growing the Next Generation Worksheet (included in online application)

 

Be sure to review all application requirements before submitting:

  • Application must be received by September 18th, 2022
  • Please review the checklist below to be sure all required parts are submitted at once. Only completed applications will be reviewed.
  • You will be notified regarding course acceptance or denial via email once we have reviewed your applications.
  • We may contact you by phone for any follow-up questions regarding your application.
  • Scholarship awards will be sent via email.
  • Correspondence will be sent to both applicants only.

About OGS & Our Values

OGS is a historically white-led organization that is actively committed to creating a more equitable and just food system. We are actively working towards becoming an organization that is anti-racist, but we are not there yet.  Our Staff, and Board are slowly but surely moving OGS closer to its social justice vision.

We are all in the learning process together.  Amidst all of the recent worldwide upheaval and resilience, we strive to create an organization that welcomes feedback, nurtures our participants, and values the inspiration and connection that comes with supporting farmers to be successful and authentic to themselves.

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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