• By Mary Jac Brennan
  • Posted Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 NC Farm School Now Accepting Applications

In an effort to help “grow” new farmers in North Carolina, N.C. Cooperative Extension is offering two NC Farm Schools across the state beginning in February. The Southern Piedmont Farm School will meet at the Cooperative Extension center Salisbury and will receive support from Cooperative Extension agents in six surrounding counties, including Forsyth. The Southern Piedmont Farm School is open to residents from across the Piedmont region.

The first Cooperative Extension farm school started in Davidson County in 2012, fueled by growing consumer interest in local foods, increasing sales at farmers market and other direct-to-consumer markets and a desire to grow the next generation of farmers. In an effort to help “grow” new farmers in North Carolina, N.C. Cooperative Extension is offering two NC Farm Schools across the state beginning in February 2016, one in the southern Piedmont and the other in the eastern Piedmont. NC Farm School is a seven-month educational program that trains beginning and transitioning farmers to operate successful, small-scale sustainable farms. The NC Farm School program offers business-planning seminars taught by University Specialists, and will give you the tools to create a viable business plan. Each business session focuses on different areas of a farm business including budgeting and finances, record-keeping, risk management and effective marketing.

The school also includes six day-long field trips at different working farms led by innovative, experienced farmers and agricultural professionals. Participants will learn about low-cost sustainable farming methods, from growing fruits and vegetables, to raising cows, pigs, poultry, and goats. The schools also will cover specialty crops and agritourism.

New farmers, like husband-wife team, Al and Linda Hutchinson, after receiving the 2014 Farm School as a gift, stated, “it was the best Christmas present ever!” Al and Linda sold heirloom vegetables and flowers from their new farm at the Reynolda and King Farmers Markets in 2015.

Farm School graduates Mike and Ginnie Tate began growing blackberries in 2014 at Rebecca Knoll Farms in Kernersville. Mike stated, “After 30 years in business, I had a voice telling me to do something agriculture, and this school helped put us in the right direction.”

The 2016 NC Farm School is a unique opportunity that is being held in the southern piedmont for the second year at the Cooperative Extension office in Rowan County (2727 Old Concord Rd., Salisbury). Business classes are held on the second Tuesday of the month from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. in Rowan County at the Cooperative Extension office in Salisbury (2727 Old Concord Rd.) with full day farm visits occurring throughout the southern Piedmont.

If you would like more information on NC Farm School, visit: www.ncfarmschool.com" or call Mary Jac Brennan at 336-703-2869. Download an application by clicking here.

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