COLUMBUS — The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is now 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 offers Farm Beginnings® programs in 13 states. The program has not been available in Ohio until now. Hundreds of farmers have graduated from Farm Beginnings® 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,” says 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 September 15. Space is limited to 25 new farmers, so early applications are encouraged. Individuals who apply by August 15 receive an “early bird” discount of $200.