This year, the Field School has over 20 experienced farmers and Ag professionals bringing their expertise to lead our sessions! This program offers beginning farmers the opportunity to meet with and learn from professional farmers and see many of their operations first hand. Along the way, we’ll have service providers from UT Extension, NRCS, TN Department of Agriculture, and the Center for Profitable Agriculture informing students of the many programs, grants, and loans available to help new and beginning farmers get into business!
Here are a few of the farmers we’ll be learning from this year:
Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community: Pam is a contributing editor with “Growing For Market” magazine. An avid vegetable grower for 38 years, she has been farming as a member of Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia for over 20 years, where she helps grow food for around 100 people on three and a half acres and provides training in sustainable vegetable production. Pam’s farming experience includes caring for cows, sheep, goats, pigs, bees, chickens, ducks and geese; growing small acreages of wheat, barley, oats, field beans and hay, using old farm implements, and growing and cooking more than sixty different kinds of vegetables and fruits. Pam will be leading a workshop on Crop Planning for Year Round Production in December.
Richard Calkins, Harbin Hill Farm: Richard found Harbin Hill Farms after retiring from a career at the World Bank. He’d discovered Mountain City after through hiking on the Appalachian Trail and managed to purchase what is possibly the largest parcel of flat land in the whole county. Richard was a student during the first year of the Field School and is now growing organic vegetables year round, with a booth at the Johnson County Farmers Market and a small CSA. Richard will host us on his farm in March for the Season Extension & Year Round Growing workshop.
Chris Wilson, Clover Creek Hair Sheep: Chris Wilson raises Animal Welfare Approved sheep and laying hens at Clover Creek Farm, near Jonesborough. Chris grew up on a small farm and has been living on a farm ever since. As a child, Chris said she “grew up thinking everyone had a cow.” Her extensive farming experience, combined with a keen interest in sustainable agriculture, has made Chris a respected leader in the field. In 1999, Chris was named Conservation Farmer of the Year in Washington County, Tennessee–the first woman to ever receive the title. Chris will host us on her farm for the Small Ruminants 101 class in March.
Camille Cody & Dana York, Grand Oak Farm: Dana York moved back to her family’s farm (first settled in the 18th century) in Jonesborough after retiring from a career at the NRCS. The farm has been newly christened Grand Oak Farm, and will start production in the spring of 2018. Camille Cody will be the farm manager, and she comes with years of experience raising organic produce, herbs and flowers on farms in East TN and Texas. Dana will discuss the steps needed to start a new farm enterprise at the Vision for Your Farm workshop in November. Grand Oak Farm will host a session in April on Sustainable Farming Practices, with a segment on Sustainable Pest & Weed Management led by Camille.
Jay Heselschwerdt, Sweet Life Farm: Jay (aka Bee Man Jay) started his farm in Tazewell in 1990 and added his first beehives in 1995. Along with honey, the farm produces a variety of vegetables, fruit and heritage breed livestock. Jay is a Master Beekeeper and the Eastern Region honey bee inspector for the state of Tennessee. Jay is also one of the founding members of the HONEY Convention. Jay has help start two more local bee clubs in east Tennessee, start up the first 4H beekeepers club in more then 25 years in Tennessee, the president of Bee Friends bee club in Tazewell, TN and always looking for more ways to educate people about honey bees. Jay will be leading the June workshop on Beekeeping for Profit.
To learn more and fill out the online registration form, please visit arcd.org/field-school.