October 3, 2018
The Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council is announcing the launch of the 2018-19 Field School, a regional training program for beginning farmers. The application and full schedule of workshops can be found at www.ARCD.org/field-school and the deadline to apply is October 31. The tuition fee is $125 for 9 workshops on business planning, financial planning, and marketing.
This will mark the fourth year of the Field School, which has had close to 100 students over the last 3 years.
“We have a lot of interest in the Field School from a wide variety of folks,” says Lexy Close, Program Coordinator for the Appalachian RC&D Council. “In the past three years, we’ve had age ranges from 14 to 73, recent college grads to recent retirees, folks with less than an acre and some with hundreds of acres of family land.”
It’s not just for new farmers either. Past students have included experienced farmers looking to diversify their operations into specialty
and direct to consumer markets.
“I’ve been farming for 20 years and I wasn’t sure I would learn much, but I really did learn a lot,” says Field School graduate Jay Heselschwedt, owner of Sweet Life Farm in Tazewell, TN. “We changed our plans after going through the Field School and doing more research. We plan to go the agritourism route to educate people about honey bees and sell real local honey.”
“We’ve tried to make the program as affordable and fun as possible,” says Close. “Not everyone completes the program still thinking that farming in their preferred career choice, but we have a number of graduates that are now farming at least part time.”
New this year, the Field School will be split into two programs: the Winter Business Intensive and the Summer Field School. The Winter Business Intensive will consist of 9 workshops on creating a comprehensive business plan that will run from November through March. Workshops will be lead by 20+ agricultural experts and experienced farmers. Applicants for the Winter Business Intensive are encouraged to have at least one year of recent farming experience.
The Summer Field School will consist of 6-8 on-farm workshops that will run from May through September. These workshops will feature produce and livestock production methods, including season extension, rotational grazing, fruit and orchard production, and more. Each workshop will be lead by an experienced farmer or agricultural profession and include a tour of the farm operation. No previous farm experience is required to participate in the Summer Field School. The full schedule and application for this program will be posted on www.ARCD.org/field-school by January 2019.
Beginning farmers of all experience levels can also apply to participate in a 200 hour on-farm mentorship program with an experienced farmer. More information on this program can be found on the Appalachian Sustainable Development website: www.asdevelop.org/farm.
The Field School is run by the Appalachian RC&D Council with funding from USDA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
For more information, please contact Alexis Close at [email protected] or call 423-979-2581.