Farm Beginnings class helps launch the next generation of family farmers and ranchers

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Farm Forum

After six successful years training new farmers, Dakota Rural Action’s Farm Beginnings course will be offered in Sioux Falls this year. Farm Beginnings is a farmer and rancher-led training and support program that provides participants the opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming and ranching and the tools to successfully launch a profitable enterprise.

Farm Beginnings classes are held December to April 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 DRA’s Farmer Network in the summer. Over eighty-percent of course graduates participate in these on-farm activities after finishing the course.

Prospective participants should contact Dakota Rural Action at (605) 697-5204 or email Matthew West at mwest@dakotarural.org. Class size is limited and early application is encouraged. Application deadline for the 2015 Sioux Falls class is October 31th. There are a limited amount of scholarships available to help with tuition costs. Course information and online application can be found at www.dakotarural.org/grow.

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. The project is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.