The Field School annual calendar of workshops for beginning farmers has just been released and application forms are available at www.arcd.org/index2.php/field-school.
The Field School is a 10-session series (November 2016 through August 2017) that provides you with an overview of small-scale farming in East Tennessee’s mountains and valleys, taught by 20+ farmers and agricultural professionals.
* Tap into the knowledge of seasoned farmers and ag professionals from across the region.
* Meet like minded people who also want to take their passion for farming to the next level.
* Learn how to connect with the local food scene, with government resources, with new ideas, with markets for farm products, with proper laws and legal guidance.
*Experience different farming styles and see behind the scenes on 5 area farms through field visits and classroom presentations taught by “real” (this makes us smile) farmers. Including several full-time farmers.
* Want to read first hand account of a Field School student? Field School students blogged about last year’s courses, read them here.
NOVEMBER, Thursday the 10th / Session 1: A Vision for Your Farm – (3 hrs., Jonesborough Farm Bureau) Self reflection of mission and values is the first step towards assessing your farm goals; An introduction to Farm Planning with Tamara McNaughton, ASD, and farmer at TnT Farm, VA; learn about Boone Street Market’s history/plan and market opportunities, meet and greet with other students.
DECEMBER, Saturday the 10th / Session 2: Planning for Planting and Season Extension (4 hrs. Richard Calkins’ Farm, Mountain City). Learn how to create a year long crop production calendar and experience how to create a longer growing season with High Tunnels.
JANUARY, Thursday the 12th / Session 3: Farming Financially (3 hrs. Farm Bureau) Introduction on how to calculate a true cost of various production systems with Adam Hopkins, UT Extension; access to land and a comfortable level of debt; determine break-even costs; and other financial tools for making a financial plan for your farm business.
FEBRUARY, Thursday the 9th / Session 4: Markets for Your Products – (3 hrs, Farm Bureau) Participants will be exposed to various avenues for marketing small farm products in the region, the cost, risk and opportunities to expand into various markets (farmers market, CSA, wholesale opportunities, restaurants, etc.), with: representatives from Appalachian Harvest; Camille Cody Serenity Knoll Farm; Jack Woodworth Zeigenwald Dairy, and other area farmers.
MARCH Saturday the 11th / Session 5: Livestock for Small Farms– Diversity, Rotational (4 hrs. at Tabitha Dotson’s Farm, Jonesborough) Introduction to small-scale animal production and rotational grazing for soil health with Tabitha Dotson and Mike McElroy (DC NRCS, Greene and the area guru on beef rotational grazing), the full cost and risks of a variety of animal enterprises and health issues of animals and human consumption issues of animal products.
APRIL, Saturday the 8th / Session 6: Proper Pest&Weed Management under Conventional or Organic – (5 hrs. at Rural Resources/River House Farm) See how Melissa grows according to “Natural Process” farming, growing year round; marketing with different produce; Mitigating crop loss through proper pest and weed management with Melody Rose, UT Extension.
MAY, Thursday the 11th / Session 7: Marketing, Quality Assurance, and Liability – (3 hrs. Mountain Harvest Kitchen) Over ten years of experience on direct marketing avenues and ideas by Molly Nicholie of ASAP, Asheville; Plus, Boone Street Market presents on their best practices on handling and packaging. Mike Brown from the TDA office of regulations will engage students on their need-to-know answers on state food safety and direct marking laws and regulations
JUNE, Saturday the 10th / Session 8: Agricultural Advocacy and Agri-Tourism – (3 hrs. at Myers Farm and Pumpkin Patch, Greee County) Experience the risk and rewards of on and off farm opportunities for the public to learn more about Agriculture
JULY, Thursday the 13th / Session 9: PYO Orchards and Berry Production (5 hrs. in field at Buffalo Trail, Greene County) Understanding orchard management, berry cultivation, and the management of a PYO operation.
AUGUST, Thursday the 10th: Graduation Family Potluck/Social and Farm Plan Presentations. Every student has the option of presenting briefly to the class about a portion of their plan for their farm business. All family members are invited to this potluck which will be out on an area farm.