Scholarships, veteran funding available for farm beginnings classes

Farm Forum

Rapid City – Scholarships and special funding for veterans available to beginning farmers and ranchers wanting to take the Farm Beginnings course, a farmer and rancher-led training and support program providing the opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods and the tools to launch a profitable enterprise. Dakota Rural Action is offering Farm Beginnings for the first time ever in Rapid City after successfully hosting the program for four years on the eastern side of the state.

Farm Beginnings classes are held from November to March and focus on topics such as whole farm planning, financial and business planning, marketing, and connecting with resources and mentors. All classes are led by established farmers and ranchers and agricultural professionals. There are opportunities for students to further their skills by participating in mentorships with local farmers and 4-6 field days are offered through Dakota Rural Action’s Farmer Network in the summer. Over eighty-percent of course graduates participate in these on-farm activities after finishing the course.

Farm Beginnings participants can be of any age, do not need to currently own land, and can come from wide range of experiences and farming and ranching interests. Nearly 40 families have enrolled in the course over the last four years and 83% of graduates are currently engaged in farming or ranching activities.

Prospective participants should contact Dakota Rural Action at 605-697-5204 or email Program Coordinator Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher at Class size is limited. Application deadline for the 2013 Rapid City class is October 18th. Course information and online application can be found at

Farm Beginnings is an established curriculum developed over a decade ago by the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project that is now replicated in several different states, including IL, NE, ND, and NY. Dakota Rural Action has adapted the curriculum to meet the needs of South Dakota farmers and ranchers. The project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-03066.