Farm Beginnings: Year-Long Farmer Training. $100 Early-Bird Discount! Apply by August 1.

The Farming Journey

OGS is committed to Steps I-IV of the “farming life cycle”, from Emerging Farmer to Seasoned Farmer. We know that farming takes courage, dedication and time. OGS is committed to growing the next generation of farmers by offering a path to success for emerging and expanding growers by providing training and assistance during the start-up years and beyond. The “farming life cycle”, illustrated below, helps us design our programs and tailor them to different levels of emerging farmers. You can download the Growing the Next Generation of Farmers worksheet to see where you are in your farming journey. Growing the Next Generation of Farmers worksheet is also available in Word Format or in a .PDF Format.

Step I: Emerging

Farm Learning Opportunities & Farm Dreams



Step II: In-Training

On-Farm Training Activities



Step III: Start-Up

Farm Beginnings & Farm Pathways



Step IV: Seasoned

Technical Assistance & Mentorship

Questions to Ask Yourself as an "Emerging Farmer":
  • Have you attended any conferences or workshops dealing with sustainable farming or homesteading?
  • Have you visited a working farm?
  • Have you participated in any work-related activities on a farm?
  • Are you interested in exploring the possibilities of farming?

Best Practices for Next Phase:

Questions to Ask Yourself as a "Farmer In-Training":
  • Have you mapped your future farming desires with workshops and conferences?
  • Are you looking for the next step in exploring the idea of operating your own farm?
  • Have had significant on-farm work experience on one or more farms in the last 5 years?
  • Are you considering a more extensive farmer training program?

Best Practices for Next Phase:

Questions to Ask Yourself as a "Start-Up Farmer":
  • Are you considering farming as a career or significant portion of your livelihood?
  • Would you like to further explore the planning process that goes into starting a farm business?
  • Are you ready to create a holistic farm plan?
  • Would you like to be better connected to the sustainable agriculture community?

Best Practices for Next Phase:

  • Field days/Skill Sessions (consider attending SAHC Field Days.)
  • Connection to a farmer network, on-farm field days & workshops (consider joining WNC CRAFT.)
  • Work Exchanges/Internships/Farm Employment (consider finding farm employment on Apprentice Link or apply to farm at the incubator farm at SAHC.)
  • Year-long training program, whole farm & enterprise planning (consider Farm Beginnings.)
Questions to ask yourself as a "Seasoned Farmer":
  • Have you completed the Farm Beginnings program?
  • Are you interested in further support to make your farm business more successful?
  • Have you identified several areas in your business that could use additional support?

Best Practices for Success:

  • Connection to a farmer network, on-farm field days & workshops (consider joining WNC CRAFT.)
  • Production, marketing and financing assistance (consider Farm Beginnings.)
  • Mentorship with an experienced farmer (consider (consider Farm Beginnings.)
  • Address land access/equity building opportunities (consider finding land through Farm Pathways.)


Contact Sera, Farmer Programs Associate

OGS Farmer Programs are made possible by our farmer network and funding in part by Carolina Farm Credit, Community Foundation of WNC, CLIF Bar Family Foundation, French Broad Food Co-op, New Belgium Brewing, Organic Valley - Farmers Advocating for Organic Farming, Simply Organic 1%, and by the USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Grant #2016-70017-25341. Read more about Farmer Programs' Funding Partners here.