Wow! Did the Field School fill up fast! Over the last two years, we struggled a bit to meet our recruitment goals, only reaching 35 students a day or two before the first session in November. This year, word seem to spread like wildfire, and we’re closing our application three weeks early because we are beyond full at this point!
But what if you just heard about Field School? Or you were thinking about it and now it’s too late? We’d love to accommodate every single person, but there’s only so much space in our classroom!
First, we recommend you sign up for our email notification list. We use this list to announce all of our public workshops, plus workshops offered by UT Extension, TN Dept of Ag, Center for Profitable Ag, Appalachian Sustainable Development, and ASAP. We even occasionally pass along grant info from TDA and USDA. Also, if you’re on this list, you’ll be the first to know when Field School applications open again in 2018!
Second, don’t let not getting into Field School get in the way of your farm dreams! There’s a host of resources available for new and beginning farmers that you can and should take advantage of.
UT Extension: Beyond a plethora of workshop opportunities, many extension agents and Ag specialists are available to come out to your farm, help you with planning and budgeting, offer advice on growing produce and livestock, and so much more! Contact your County Extension Office to get started!
Center For Profitable Ag: A joint partnership with UT Extension, TDA and Farm Bureau, these folks are there to help you plan a successful farm business. They offer lots of technical resources, workshops & trainings, and even one on one consulting.
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS): Another branch of the USDA, NRCS offers whole farm conservation planning services and has tons of cost share programs to help offset the expenses of installing high tunnels, electric fencing, watering stations and more. Beginning Farmers can qualify for a 90% cost-share for many programs! Contact your District Conservationist to get started!
Farm Service Agency (FSA): FSA offers a number of services for farmers, but one of the best is a low interest micro-loan program for up to $50,000 for beginning farmers. The FSA offers lines of credit to new farmers, who would otherwise not qualify for loans from traditional lending institutions. They do want to see a solid business plan for your farm, but they can also help you develop one, if needed! Contact your County Office to get started!
Third, read some books! Cozy up this winter with a mug of hot cocoa and some of these book recommendations. You may be so inspired you’ll be out farming by spring!
- Market Farming Success – Lynn Byczynski
- New Organic Grower – Eliot Coleman
- The Market Gardener – Jean-Martin Fortier
- Sustainable Market Farmer – Pam Dawling
- You Can Farm – Joel Salatin
- Small Scale Livestock Farming – Carol Ekarius
- The New Livestock Farmer – Rebecca Thistlethwaite
Good luck! And remember to sign up for our email list so you can stay in touch!