2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2, Page #09[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Extension Programs Support New Farmers
Its goal is to support the creation of sustainable farms and enable farmers to maintain a good quality of life.
The Viability Training program serves those who have started a farm within the past 3 to 10 years and want additional training to grow bigger or become more successful. It educates participants on ways to have a successful farm from multiple angles, including production, marketing, and business planning. Topics include how to obtain farmland or manage an heirs’ property, selling in retail markets, grocery stores, and other venues, and the specifics of managing the business side of farming.
FastTrack Farming is a similar program offered by the university. The 12-month training aims to improve farming opportunities for underrepresented populations and military veterans. It’s meant for those who have never managed a farm or have done so for fewer than ten years. The goal is to build relationships between beginning farmers and agricultural organizations that can teach them applicable skills. These include management techniques, farming skills, and financial literacy.
Program participants receive both remote and hands-on training experiences. These include workshops for growing organic produce, managing hydroponic and aquaponic systems, and learning the basics of beekeeping. Participants gain access to technical assistance for finding farmland, applying for USDA grants, and navigating the world of cost-sharing and loan procurement.
Student farmers attend workshops and training conferences and have opportunities to network with other farmers. Likewise, incubator farms throughout Ohio will provide apprenticeship experiences for participants. New farmers will be required to work at these farms a few times per month for the entire program year, while experienced farmers may request an exemption from this portion.
Farmers who complete the apprenticeship will be offered a plot of land to farm. Explains program leader Dr. Sid Dasgupta, “The plan is to connect Fastrack Farming farmers to land banks who may provide them with land to start a farm. The land is going to be temporarily leased to them.” While it won’t be theirs to keep, it can be used throughout their participation in the program. They will also receive a certificate of completion at the end.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. Sid Dasgupta or Dr. Alcinda (Cindy) Folck, Central State University Extension, 1400 Brush Row Rd, Wilberforce, Ohio 45384 (sdasdupta@CentralState.edu; afolck@CentralState.edu; www.centralstate.edu/csuextension).
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