New Virginia State University program helps open doors for beginning farmers
Through a series of educational seminars, beginning farmers will learn how to establish and sustain a viable agricultural operation. The comprehensive sessions include classroom-based workshops and field instruction as well as one-on-one training with an extension agent and farmer-mentor.
“This program is important for Virginia’s socially disadvantaged and veteran beginning farmers and ranchers in our endeavor to equip them with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions in entering, improving and operating successful farm businesses,” explained William Crutchfield, director of VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program. “The program is offered through education, outreach, training and technical assistance in a holistic manner, thereby enhancing the next generation of small farmers’ economic opportunities and quality of life.”
Free or low-cost educational workshops will help participants:
- create financial plans and make decisions about when and how to grow a farm business;
- identify and apply for financial resources that may be available;
- improve farm production, livestock and forest management practices;
- evaluate value-added production strategies that provide additional income from farm products;
- learn about state-of-the-art farm tools and equipment; and
- develop marketing strategies to help find buyers and build a customer base.
A whole-farm planning workshop also is being offered as an introductory course in starting a new farm business. Each month, a small farm orientation will be held at VSU’s Randolph Farm. Other workshop topics include fruit orchard establishment, hops research and production, timber management, small engine repair and farm equipment safety.