Field School

At Joe Couch's Farm/Nursery/Hydroponics, December 2015

At Joe Couch’s Farm/Nursery/Hydroponics, December 2015

The Field School 2016-2017 is underway!

We are full. However, certain workshops will be open to the public and you can get on the mailing list for these announcements by emailing alexis [at] gmail


PrintInterested in Sponsorship? 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. Join an outstanding group of partners: Call or email Emily

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Want a first hand account? You can read a blog post about each session written by last year’s Field School students here.


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At Myers Farm & Pumpkin Patch, July 2016

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. It is arranged by the Appalachian RC&D Council, Dana York, and many area partners with major support from NRCS. Pre-Registration is required.

* 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.


At Myers Farm, Greeneville, July 2016


A session on calculating the true cost of a crop, November 2015

Calendar 2016-2017:

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 Farm 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 8Agricultural 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.


Additional Workshops Pending (Field School students will receive discount)

APRIL 29 – Saturday All Day Workshop “Food Safety and Soil Health“,Location TBD, with Patricia Tripp of Artisan Food Solutions, on Proper handling and food safety innovations for small family farm; and Mike Hubbs, TACD, on Soil Health.

Plus we think all growers should mark their calendars for these area conferences, put on by other organizations:

Jan 25-28: SSAWG, Lexington KY

Feb 16-18:Pick Tennessee” Tennessee State Conference, Franklin TN

Feb 25: Business of Farming, Asheville, NC


Registration for 2016-2017 is closed. To join the 2017-2018 class, we will accept applications September 2017.

Download the Registration Form-2016 – instructions on how to submit are on the form: Registration-2016

Registration for the whole series of 10 sessions costs $75.00 paid in advance – which includes curriculum materials and a meal at each session. The cost is subsidized by NRCS and business sponsors.

We prefer you mail a check because it saves us the paypal fee, but you can pay online via paypal, via the “donate” button, and we’ll contact you to verify receipt.

More pictures from recent farm workshops:


We are so grateful to the partners who have already committed support, either through teaching or through financial sponsorship. Thanks to all UT Extension teachers, NRCS, FSA, TDA, to all farmers, and the 20+ professionals who will teach at the Field School over the course of the year.

Tennessee’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has awarded the Field School a grant for 2016-2017  to support beginning farmer education, specifically in Soil Health and natural resources management.

Farm Bureau, provides classroom and kitchen space for us for free at their Jonesborough location.

Boone Street Market (101 Boone Street, Jonesborough) is an all-local, year-round Farm Store, and it caters the majority of the meals, using ingredients from some of our past Field School students, and teachers. Just like the products on its shelves, all main ingredients in the meals are sourced from within 100 miles of the store.  BSM in a 501(C)(3) nonprofit founded in 2015, thanks to the Town of Jonesborough, donations from the community and store members (any one can support the store by being a paid annual member, and you get discounts). In its first year the store brought in $250,000 in sales for local farmers.

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.

Washington County Community Foundation (then the Harris Fund) sponsored our Friends of Ag breakfasts for 2 years, allowing us to research community needs and evolve a Field School program.

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: