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Farmer and Rancher Mentorship (F.A.R.M.) The region’s first Farmer and Rancher Mentorship

By Sylvia Crum

Farmer and Rancher Mentorship (F.A.R.M.)Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), a local non-profit committed to transitioning Appalachia by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people to healthy food, has partnered with Appalachian RC&D Council and Rural Resources to launch a 200 hour, on-the-farm Farmer and Rancher Mentorship (F.A.R.M.) in northeast TN and southwest VA.

F.A.R.M. is a 3 year program, designed for beginning farmers who are unemployed, underemployed or who do not plan to attend college. It will also provide re-entry inmates from the southwest Virginia Regional Jail opportunities to learn about careers in agriculture. F.A.R.M. aims to prepare interns for successful careers in farming and food production by providing them with a direct learning experience with a local farmer/mentor.

Jenni Roop, ASD’s Regional Coalition Coordinator explains, “Our goal is to generate economic opportunities by creating a workforce of farmers and food producers.  To meet the growing demand for local food, we need more farmers. And we hope to recruit and retain younger farmers who will stay in our region and thrive. By offering a mentorship program, where beginners can learn from long-time farmers, we expect to have high rates of success.”

Interested farmers with at least 1 year of general farming experience are encouraged to apply at: www.asdevelop.org/farm/apply.  Interns who successfully complete the program in the 2018 growing season will receive a certificate of completion and a $500 award stipend.

Opportunities for regional forest farmers
Forest Farmer Grower-Industry Expo and Training: May 19, 9:00am-6:00pm, The Renaissance Center, 1200 E Center St., Kingsport, TN
Connect with herb companies, apothecaries, and herbal product makers, experienced and aspiring forest farmers for a day of networking and learning. Panel discussions with forest farmers and buyers will highlight valuable experiences and advice. Technical training sessions will be offered for all skill and experience levels. Topics to include herb cultivation, propagation techniques, plant conservation, certification, value-added production and more. Registration required: www.regonline.com/
asd-2018. Expo is free, $15 for the afternoon technical sessions.

The Forest Farmer Field Day: May 20, 10:00am-3:30pm, Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub, 280 Boone Trail Rd., Duffield, VA
Start the day with a tour of the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub and a discussion on the economics of cultivating forest-grown medicinal herbs. After a catered lunch, attendees will tour forest farmer Ryan Huish’s farm, learning about his plans for cultivating forest herbs, along with plant identification and information on site selection and more. The tour will include a mildly strenuous hike through diverse forest ecosystems. Registration required: www.regonline.com/asd-2018. $15 includes catered lunch.

Events are sponsored by ASD and partners in the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition. For information, contact Emily Lachniet: elachniet@asdevelop.org or 276-623-1121.

FREE 2018 Local Food Guides are now available!
Be sure to get yours today.

About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development is transitioning Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people with healthy food.

Since 1995, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been working in 15 counties in Central Appalachia. ASD’s reach has since expanded to include eastern WV and KY and southeast OH. ASD uses 6 strategies to accomplish its work:  closing the knowledge gap, increasing local food production, developing markets, increasing distribution of local agriculture products, engaging strategic partners, and researching/consulting and advising. ASD operates programs that create jobs in farming and agriculture and address food insecurity. For more information about ASD go to www.asdevelop.org, Facebook or Twitter.

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