Helping new farmers launch sustainable agriculture businesses works best when the approach is community-based and farmer-led.
Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC) in Caledonia, IL announced that it is now accepting applications for Stateline Farm Beginnings, a farmer training program aimed at beginning and transitioning farmers interested in creating sustainable agriculture businesses.
The 2012-13 program will mark the 8th year of this successful program facilitated by AOLC.
Since 2005, Stateline Farm Beginnings has produced over 100 graduates, 73 percent of whom have launched more than 43 new sustainable farms in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin region.
The program is led by farmers of the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) and administered by AOLC.
"The Stateline Farm Beginnings program is unique because 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 Jenny Meyer, farmer training director at AOLC. "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 2012 with nine business planning sessions throughout the fall and winter. These are followed by the development of an individualized "learning plan" for the growing season which includes 12 field day workshops at regional farms.
Participants also receive mentoring from successful sustainable agriculture farmers via internships, employment, or technical assistance arrangements. Twenty new farmers will be accepted into the program.
Applicants can visit http://www.learngrowconnect.org/what/training/stateline to read graduate success stories as well as download an application packet. The course fee is $1,500 and scholarships are available.
The application deadline is Sept. 1. Applicants who turn in the application by Aug. 15 receive an "early bird" discount of $150 off.
Angelic Organics Learning Center, located in Caledonia, IL, helps urban and rural people build local food systems. The Learning Center offers opportunities to grow healthy food and a better quality of life, connect with farmers and the land, and learn agricultural and leadership skills.
A nonprofit organization, the Learning Center reaches more than 4,000 people each year through its programs at partner farms and urban growing sites in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.learngrowconnect.org.