Farm Beginnings class helps launch the next generation of family farmers

Dakota Rural Action
Farm Forum

Dakota Rural Action’s Farm Beginnings course will be offered in Mitchell, S.D. 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. Our farmer training is unique in that it is farmer-led, community based, and focused on sustainable agriculture.

Farm Beginnings classes are held January to May 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. The program is embedded in a network of farmers and supported by a community of stakeholders that include bankers, business people, extension agents, investors, philanthropists and more. Creating this social infrastructure is intentional and a precursor to launching new programs, as it bolsters outcomes and plans for program sustainability.

Prospective participants should contact Dakota Rural Action at (605) 697-5204 ext. 280 or email Matthew West at mwest@dakotarural.org. Class size is limited and early application is encouraged. Application deadline for this year’s class is December 15th. 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.