The Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council is proud to announce that its Field School program was one of 140 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development grant proposals funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. NIFA has awarded a total of $50M through this program this year, $407,995 of which is coming to the Appalachian Highlands to train new and beginning farmers. This award will fund Field School through August of 2024. The ARCD hopes to foster the successful launch of at least 25 new farm businesses and reach more broadly at least 320 beginning farmers with training and education.
Field School is a beginning farmer training program that trains up-and-coming farmers on both agricultural operations and the business and legal side of running a farm business. The program is open to all farmers, but ARCD does give special consideration to the needs of socially disadvantaged, limited resource, military veteran, women, and young farmers.
The goals of the program with this funding are to:
1. Increase the number of new and beginning farmers starting agricultural businesses in the Appalachian Highlands and increase the business, financial, and production knowledge of these farmers to successfully launch and sustain their businesses.
2. Support limited-resource, veteran, women and other beginning farmers to innovate and learn from each other through fostering a peer-to-peer network of farm visits.
3. Increase utilization of USDA and TN Department of Agriculture (TDA) farmer support programs such as the TDA Producer Diversification cost-share, NRCS EQIP conservation practices cost-shares, and FSA microloan programs.
4. Increase the utilization of sustainable production methods by beginning farmers in our region.
5. Facilitate the long-term transition of productive farmland to a new generation of farmers.
ARCD holds two sessions of Field School each year: the Summer Field School runs from May until September and focuses on the operational production training, and the Winter Business Intensive runs November until March and focuses on the business, financial, legal, and marketing aspects of running an agricultural business. The Winter Business Intensive is accredited by the TN Department of Agriculture, so graduates of the program can qualify for up to 2 education credits toward the Producer Diversification Cost-Share Program. The next Winter Business Intensive session kicks off on November 11th. The program will run both in person in a classroom setting and virtually.
The Appalachian RC&D Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization serving Northeast Tennessee and beyond. The mission of ARCD is to conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities. For more information on Field School, please click here.