The OGS team is excited to introduce you to Nicole DelCogliano, our new Farmer Programs Associate. We were able to bring Nicole on board at the OGS in April of 2015, thanks to funding from The Community Foundation of WNC, to support the OGS with the creation and implementation of a comprehensive, regionally-informed farmer training curriculum in Western NC called Farm Pathways: Access to Land, Livelihood, & Learning.
The Farmer Programs Associate position was created to support the development of Farm Pathways in these key ways:
- Conduct a local farmer survey to evaluate aspiring and new farmers in the WNC to gain a deeper understanding of their obstacles & needs which will inform an integrated training to start or expand farm businesses.
- Map regional educational assets of our regional allies in the area of farmer training so that we may work together more effectively to train new farmers.
- Conduct an assessment of replicable farmer training programs, from across the country, that have strong statistical backing, student references, curriculum data, and success rates. An analysis of the best national programs is crucial to a resourced approach.
- Participate strategically in the development of Farm Pathways in 2015.
“With these key steps, we will not just be ‘filling in the gaps’ of what’s missing in farmer training, but creating a new farmer-inspired, collaboratively-driven, and nationally-informed training program of the broadest scope, substance, and merit,” says Nicole.
Farm Pathways will serve beginning and expanding farmers in the mountain counties of Western NC. Programming is open to farmers in surrounding Southern Appalachian states – Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina. Trainings will be inclusive of farmers of all ages, races, genders, experience levels, and production models.
The outcome of the Farm Pathways project is an increased number of successful beginning and expanding farmers in our area by providing a structure of training and land access that allows farmers to successfully build and grow long-term farm businesses.
“As a food and farming community it is crucial for us to identify the barriers to farming in our area in order to define and develop the best possible programs for overcoming them. Additionally, developing and building relationships between sustainable farming organizations is the only way to create more regional resilience, healthy interdependence, and a revitalization of our local food systems,” says Lee Warren, the OGS Executive Director.
Nicole brings with her a wealth of farming experience and insight from her roles as a farmer, activist, writer, and grassroots organizer. She, and her husband Gaelan, began their farm Green Toe Ground over 14 years ago in Burnsville, NC. They’ve grown the farm over the years there they now manage 16 acres of diversified organic and biodynamic produce and livestock, train farm apprentices each year, and raise their two girls. You can find Nicole & Gaelan on Saturdays during the growing season at the North Asheville Tailgate Market & Downtown Asheville City Market.
With stints teaching at the Arthur Morgan School, doing research for Clean Water for North Carolina, and organizing for the French Broad Member Accountability Project Nicole has demonstrated her commitment to protecting our WNC mountain communities and gained innumerable research, outreach, education, and organizing skills which we will certainly make use of at the OGS! Nicole can also boast a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from State University at New Paltz in New York, and is currently finishing up her thesis, “Community Engagement in Shale Gas Development: A Foray into Sustainable Development in an Unsustainable Industry” in pursuit of a Masters degree in Appalachian Studies with a concentration in Sustainability from Appalachian State University (fall of 2015).
We are so proud to have Nicole on the OGS team. Look out for more from this amazing lady!
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.