The Organic Growers School’s project “Strategies for Success: Risk Management Education & Whole Farm Support of Beginning Farmers in the Southern Appalachians” was accepted for funding through the Southern ERME program.

About The ERME Program (from their website)

Extension Risk Management Education (ERME) is delivered through four regional centers that provide grant funding and leadership within their regions.

The four regional centers include, the University of Arkansas (Southern), the University of Nebraska (North Central), the University of Delaware (Northeast), and Washington State University (Western).


Western Region North Central Region Northeast Region Southern Region

Projects are 18 months in length and are designed to help producers learn new strategies to manage the agricultural risks they face. The goal is simple…give farmers and ranchers the tools to improve their risk management skills and capabilities. Projects address the five general types of risk associated with farm and ranch businesses: production, price/market, financial, legal, and human risks. Funded projects are producer-focused, results-based and encourage public-private partnerships. Project steps must identify targeted results that will help producers manage risk and then describe how the project will measure those results. Each project must be completed within 18 months, April 1 to September 30. Awards range from $5,000 to a maximum of $50,000. Applicants may also apply for planning, development or piloitng efforts by submitting an Exploratory Projects.  These projects seek to pilot new programs, plan feasible program strategies and build collaborations with key stakeholders.

Southern Risk Management Education Center has funded innovative programs that have generated tangible results for producers in every state and territory across the southern region.

About The OGS Project

Organic Growers School will serve beginning, low resource, and sustainable production farmers in the Southern Appalachians with the goal of helping producers increase their success by managing, reducing, and overcoming production, financial, and human risk.

We will offer six one-day, one 2-day, seven 90-minute workshops and one-on-one mentoring to our region’s farmers. Farmers will increase their use of integrated livestock systems, water restoration and management, growing and selling storage crops and pastured animal products, holistic pest and disease management, remediation and improvement of land-based issues and system design on their own farm sites to address their production risk. They will also experience the successes and failures of other growers which will help them build more resilient farm operations. Furthermore, they will mitigate financial and human risks by targeting skill development and support through education on hiring and managing employees, effective communication, enterprise selection and assessment, and financial planning. These opportunities are often limited, especially for new and beginning farmers.

This robust set of programs will run from March 2019 to August 2020 and will serve 435 producers. Producers will show results in the realms of understanding, analyzing, developing, deciding, and implementing risk management skills, tools, practices, and systems.

Award Details

While our grant has been awarded by the Southern Center, the funding is ultimately from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number: 2018-70027-28585

Author: Cameron Farlow

Cameron Farlow is the Executive Director of Organic Growers School. Hailing from Greensboro, NC with dairy farming in her blood, she has now made her home in Western NC. After earning her undergraduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, Cameron dove headfirst into the realm of sustainable agriculture and local food systems, and later completed her Master’s Degree in Appalachian Studies and Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. She also brings experience in the realms of farmland preservation, food security, farm to university, and land access for farmers. She came on board with OGS in April 2012. In addition to her work with OGS, Cameron is a dancer, baker and avid adventurer.