The Appalachian RC&D, thanks to the following partners, is pleased to announce the opening of a new training program for beginning farmers. The Field School offers a year-long Beginning Farmer Training Program for people who are ready to take their passion for farming to the next level. Escuela de Campo – Se Habla Español – Spanish translation available at courses!

Those interested can now view course offerings that will run November 2015-August 2016 and meet a few of the teachers who will be involved. Through monthly courses scheduled at times convenient to those who work full-time, attendees will be mentored by seasoned farmers and ag professionals from across the region; gain access to resources, including a 3″ ring-binder of presentations and handouts; connect with the local food scene; go through applied and practical exercises at each session.  Sessions will be both classroom and field based. Read below or download the ’15-’16 Brochure: FieldSchool2015_16.pdf

Partners: Boone Street Market, Green Earth Connection (Dana York), UT Extension, TN State University Extension, the TN RC&D Council, Tn Area of Conservation Districts, First Bank and Trust Ag Lending.

Funded by NRCS Outreach and Advocacy Grant in partnership with TSU Extension Service and TN RC&D Creativity Grant.


Why Participate?

The Field School provides the foundation for successful farm ownership, management, and education, and facilitates lasting connections throughout the East Tennessee and southwest VA region. You will learn:

  • Critical Thinking: farm goals, identifying values, long term planning

  • Marketing: choosing your markets, formulating strategies, talking directly with buyers

  • Financial literacy: creating a business plan, assessing debt, financial record-keeping, calculating profit and loss

  • Regulations: requirements for farms in Tennessee, understanding where to find legal requirements for direct-sale and wholesale

  • Crop Planning Year-round: preparing for the seasons, season extension, prioritizing farm tasks, assessing potential challenges

  • Production Techniques: crop rotation, soil health management, sustainable pest and weed control, post-harvest handling

  • Grant and Resource Opportunities: grants, loans, support systems for farmers from government and other resources

  • Advocacy and leadership: how to advocate affectively for small farms and for locally-based agriculture


How to Apply:

The Field School courses are open to the public, no application required as ’15-’16 is out pilot year and we want to expose as many people as possible to the course for your benefit and for your feedback to us.

You will get the most out of the courses if you:

  • Have one-year of experience growing for market.
  • Need to work full-time off the farm.
  • Are ready to take their passion to the next level.
  • Are ready to complete a business plan by the end of the program.
  • Are a Veteran.
  • Are in a class of farmers who have been historically underserved by government programs–women, minorities.


You must register by the Monday before the class. Each session will be $10 or less and the cost per session will be posted soon. Or, sign up now for the whole 9 sessions for a discounted price of only $55!

Call or email Emily to register or if you have questions. Pay online via credit card or mail a check.


Course Offerings 2015-2016:

*we are here to serve you – additional courses can be arranged based on interest.*

A fellowship meal will be provided at each session.


11/19/15 – Farm Bureau Jonesborough – 6-9pm – Farming FinanciallyCalculate a true cost of various production systems and learn other smart financial tools; Develop a introductory production and financial plan for your farm.

12/19/15 – in the field location TBD – 8am-12pm – Crop Production Year-RoundLearn various fruit and vegetable production systems and risk and profit margins of each; tour High Tunnels. Develop a sample year-round production calendar.

1/21/16 – Farm Bureau Jonesborough – 6-9pm – Integrating Animals – Understand the full costs and risks of small-scale animal enterprises; basic veterinary health; issues of food safety. Analyze a single animal enterprise for your operation.

2/18/16 – Farm Bureau Jonesborough – 6-9pm – Resources and NeighborsMeet with representatives from local, state and federal programs that assist with loans, grants, conservation, education.

–> 2/11 – 2/13 is the Pick Tennessee Conference (statewide TN Dept Ag and ag associations) in Knoxville! Travel stipends and opportunities available for students. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for details.

3/19/16 – in the field location TBD – 8am-12pm – Pests and Weed Management – Conventional/Organic – How to manage pests/weeds via Conventional and Organic practices.

4/21/16 – Farm Bureau Jonesborough – 6-9pm – Field to MarketThe costs, risks and opportunities for marketing small farm products regionally in East TN and southwest VA; Know where you can sell your products and design sample deal with a guest buyer from the local food scene.

5/19/16 – in the field location TBD – – 6-9pm – Soil Health and NutrientsLong term soil health: practices that are necessary for nutrient management (grazing regimes; cover cropping; soil tillage; water mgmt); Test your own soils and develop a nutrient plan.

6/16/16 – Farm Bureau Jonesborough – 6-9pm – Liability and Legal RisksWhat regulations apply to you? Assess your legal exposure and minimize liability through quality assurance production methods; food safety for direct-to-consumer sales.

7/21/16 – in the field location TBD – – 6-9pm – Tourism and AdvocacyLearn from area ag leaders how to be an effective advocate for your farm, with the public, and for the ag economy.

9/18/16 – Farm Bureau Jonesborough – 6-9pm – Final Farm Plan Presentations / GraduationOne-on-one mentoring through the final parts of writing an integrative whole farm financial/production/marketing plan for your farm operation. Present the plan at graduation on 9/18

November 2016…recruiting the next class!


You must register by the Monday before the class. Each session will be $10 or less and the cost per session will be posted soon. Or, sign up now for the whole 9 sessions for a discounted price of only $55!

Call or email Emily to register or if you have questions. Pay online via credit card or mail a check.



Why now?

There is tremendous energy around the locally grown movement here in East Tennessee!

  1. In 2013 the East Tennessee Foundation funded two years of educational “Friends of Ag” events for area producers and community, 9 events per year. Each event brought in area farmers and community ag professionals to share their expertise and craft. Hearing these presenters and the audience feedback has led us to evolve the program into a more focused training format to encourage and grow the next farming generation.
  2. In March 2015 the ARC&D co-hosted the first East Tennessee Growing Agriculture Conference, a full day of workshops geared towards the 40 beginning farmer attendees present. We learned their expectations and needs and saw how there is a need for mentorship and education.
  3. So far in 2015 the AR&CD has already delivered 9 training events (not including the all day conference) for growers of local food. Through these events we have assessed some of the needs of at least of 50 individual farm businesses, many of whom are in the beginning stages of their venture.
  4. There are more places now than ever before in the greater Tricities region, and beyond, for farmers to sell locally-grown goods. The Boone Street Market (Jonesborough, TN) opened in October 2014 and is on track to sell $250,000 of local goods for producers in its first Year. Appalachian Sustainable Development operates Appalachian Harvest wholesale service and Rooted in Appalachia restaurant delivery service. Restaurants are advertising how they buy local. The ARC&D was were awarded a two-year Local Foods Promotion grant to connect consumers and restaurants and growers for 2014-2016.
  5. Dana York, retired 2014 Associate Chief USDA-NRCS, has moved back home to northeast Tennessee with ambitions to spend the next phase of her career training new beginning farmers in our region. Dana is the Field School’s Lead Facilitator and Curriculum Consultant. Having worked in the Chesapeake Bay watershed where nutrient management is lifeblood, her strength is coaching you to plow a straight row between cost-effective and conservation farming that leads to better soil, water quality, and profits.


Pictures from recent farm & community events that have inspired the founding of the Field School:



We are so grateful to these partners who have already committed support, either through teaching or through financial sponsorship.

Join this great group of partners: course sponsorship opportunities are available. Call or email Emily. Sponsoring the Field School is perfect for reaching farmers, farm-supporting clients and food lovers with your information. And it shows your support for farmers who protect our land and water and serve our communities.

Future Harvest, based out of Maryland, graciously allowed us to borrow their beginning farmer program title of Field School and has advised us on materials. For more information on their great work in the Chesapeake food-shed:

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