‘Farm Beginnings’ program available

Staff report

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is accepting applications for Heartland Farm Beginnings, a community-based, farmer-led, field-tested, in-depth farmer training program which helps beginning farmers create successful sustainable agriculture businesses.

OEFFA has partnered with the Farm Beginnings Collaborative (FBC), a national alliance of regional groups, which is offering Farm Beginnings in Ohio for the first time. Hundreds of farmers have graduated from the programs, and they have a strong track record. For example, 71 percent of graduates were still farming in 2016.

“Participants are able to tap the knowledge of some of the most innovative and skilled farmers operating in the Midwest, as well as develop lifelong friendships and networks with other beginning farmers,” said Kelly Henderson, Begin Farming Program coordinator at OEFFA. “They learn critical farm management skills and innovative marketing strategies to help build a business plan for their own farm.”

The year-long program begins in October 2017 with 10 business planning sessions throughout the fall and winter. These are followed by the development of an individualized learning plan for the growing season to facilitate continuing education. Participants may also receive mentoring from successful sustainable agriculture farmers through internships, employment or technical assistance arrangements.

Applicants can visit www.oeffa.org/q/farmbeginnings to read more about the program and request an application packet. The course fee is $1,200 and includes a membership in OEFFA and registration to the 2018 OEFFA conference.

The application deadline is Sept. 15. Space is limited to 25 new farmers, so early applications are encouraged. Individuals who apply by Aug. 15 receive an “early bird” discount of $200.

Staff report