Considering Starting a Farm or a New Farm Enterprise?
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Are you interested in farming? Do you have land and ideas, but perhaps no concrete plan for what to do with it? Then NC Farm School might be a good opportunity for you.
N.C. Cooperative Extension in Davie County will be hosting NC Farm School in 2022, in collaboration with Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, and Yadkin Counties. NC Farm School is a unique entrepreneurial program for people who are new or transitioning to farming. The mission of NC Farm School is to increase the number of successful farmers in North Carolina. NC Farm School benefits those who attend by connecting them to a community of like-minded farmers and Agricultural Extension agents, as well as providing them with essential business skills.
Justin and Holly Miller of Cherry Hill Farm in Davie County graduated from NC Farm School in 2015. When asked if NCFS had benefitted them, they stated “NC Farm School was a crash course in Ag business and economics. We went into NC Farm School with an idea to get the family farm up and going again. We really just had plans to grow produce on a large enough scale to sell at markets and a roadside stand. NC Farm School helped us build onto our vision and really helped us build the foundation to start our business. They taught us how to run numbers before making any moves, and how to keep good records and the importance of it. We would highly recommend NC Farm School to anyone thinking about making a career in agriculture.”
NC Farm School’s method of helping farmers develop their ideas is hands-on and emphasizes a think-plan-do method by coming out to the farm to discover what resources students have and what the next steps are in practical business development. NC Farm School graduate Michael Tustin of Squashbuckler Farm in Person County said, “The on-farm consultation was awesome because it helped me really tie down some of the finer details of my plans and it was great to have people with real-world experience tell me I wasn’t crazy and that my dream was possible.” Michael purchased 30 acres and developed his business plan around a market garden with the goal of enlarging and diversifying his farming operation. He was able to connect to Extension agents who continue to help him along the way and be available to stay hands-on as he grows.
NC Farm School is committed to helping those who have land develop agricultural businesses in order to keep land in production. Often, this land would have sold to development or used for non-agricultural purposes. NC Farm School graduate Joy Cobb of Providence Farm in Guilford County stated that she was able to take her idea and put it on paper in a meaningful way. Joy recognized that this was critical to keeping the commitment to that land that Joy and husband Darryl had made to their family as Joy goes on to say, “His [Darryl’s father’s] wish was that the land stays in agriculture as opposed to being timbered or turned into a housing development. We made a commitment to Darryl’s father that we do all we could to keep the farm a farm.”
Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 NC Farm School, which will start in January 2022. Classroom sessions are planned to be held in person at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Davie County Center, but will be based on North Carolina and NC State Extension guidelines for safety concerning COVID-19. One field day per month will be held at different locations in the six counties that are collaborating on NCFS. For more information, call N.C. Cooperative Extension of Davie County at 336-753-6100 or visit 2022 NC Farm School.