Farm School will give farmers useful tools
The demand for locally grown food continues to grow despite a faltering economy. Direct sales from farms to consumers grew 215 percent from 1992-2007. However, the average farmer in N.C. is 57 years old and looking forward to retirement. More farmers are needed to meet the demand for locally grown food in North Carolina. Often landowners visit the Extension office and say, “I have some land that I want to do something with, but I don’t know what. Can you tell me what I can grow and make some money?”
Unfortunately, this is really an open-ended question, because it really depends on the market and the operator on whether an agriculture venture will be successful. A successful business begins with a good plan and lots of research. More families are exploring ways to supplement their incomes and put their land into something productive.
The 2013 Piedmont Farm School is a seven-month educational program that trains beginning and transitioning farmers with a strong commitment to operate successful small-scale sustainable farms. The school offers seven business planning seminars which will give farmers the tools to create a viable business plan.
Each business session will focus on different areas of writing a business plan, including financial management and effective marketing strategies. The school also includes seven 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 fruits, vegetables, cows, pigs, poultry, goats, specialty crops and agritourism.
The business classes are scheduled to meet the second Tuesday of the month beginning in February from 6-9 p.m. at the Davidson County Extension Center in Lexington. The farm field days are tentatively scheduled for the fourth Thursday of the month from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The farm field days will take place at various farming operations throughout the Piedmont. Registration deadline is Dec. 14, one person: $200, two people: $250, families of three or more: $300. For more information about this program, visit the Davidson County Extension website at http://davidson.ces.ncsu.edu events page or call 336-242-2085 for more detailed information.
Amy-Lynn Albertson is the Horticulture Agent for Davidson County Cooperative Extension Service and coordinator for the Piedmont Farm School.