December 7, 2016
Lincoln, Neb. — Nebraska Extension will begin its 9th Farm Beginnings® Program Jan. 7 at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at 5985 G Road in Nebraska City. Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society are facilitating the program.
The Farm Beginnings® Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Farm Beginnings® participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers and attend practical, high-quality seminars, field days and conferences. The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining firsthand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation.
While this isn’t a program for someone wanting to get into conventional farming, it is a program that has attracted several people interested in farming on a smaller scale, some who have migrated out from urban to rural areas. One past participant in the class said, “This program had a huge impact. I have improved my business plan, my overall efficiency and continue to try new ideas I thought to not be possible.”
Any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions. Most of the farmers that present come from small to medium sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products. Many of these farmers direct market their products.
Participants of this course may be interested in becoming involved with growing alternative crops or producing fruits and vegetables for direct sale to consumers, grocery stores or restaurants. Others may be interested in growing livestock for direct marketing. This is an opportunity for people interested in learning about this type of farming from farmers who are doing it and making a living at it.
The Farm Beginnings® Program consists of 11 sessions from January through April that cover a variety of topics, including building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management. While the class participants will learn firsthand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course. As part of the class tuition, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference at Columbus on Jan. 27-28. This is a conference that has been held annually for a number of years and has sessions that focus on topics in sustainable agriculture, such as vegetable production, grass-fed beef, pasture poultry, meat and dairy goat production, composting, cover crops, organic farming, growing crops in high tunnels, bee keeping, farm transitioning and agri-tourism. A farm tour is featured early in the course and visits to several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating. If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.
Cost of the total program is $500, but participants may qualify for a partial scholarship. For a brochure and an application for the Farm Beginnings® Program, go to http://nemaha.unl.edu and scroll down to the Farm Beginnings® article. For more information about the program, contact Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (402) 274-4755.Gary Lesoing