A Radishing Bunch of Future Farmers!
May 23, 2016
This week, we welcomed a fresh crop of aspiring farmers into the Growing New Farmers Program! We are so fortunate to have such a diverse group of motivated individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in agriculture. With 70% of our 24 participants being women and the average age of the group at 29, we are pleased to continue working to address the disparity in age and gender representation in this challenging profession. We couldn’t be happier to be providing them with the tools and education necessary for a fruitful future!
The first day of class was kicked off by a series of icebreakers where strangers began to build community. The importance of the symbiotic relationship between the community and local farms was discussed and a review of class policies and procedures provided a framework for the next six months of the course. Participants will be learning every aspect of the farming business from now until November. Monday’s lecture-based classes will feature expert guest speakers from around the state and visits to area businesses related to the local food system.
Later in the week, everyone trekked out to Dirt Works Incubator Farm on John’s Island which hosts our teaching plot. We toured the grounds where participants will have weekly practical experience with the topics discussed in lecture. They were also introduced to our incubator farm operations on the plot including Compost in my Shoe, Spade and Clover Gardens and Rooting Down Farms, who all serve as mentors to participants who chose the apprentice option in the program. This year we matched 12 apprentices with 11 mentor farmers and they have already begun their goal setting and on the job training.
In the produce packing area, we learned and practiced techniques to preserve the integrity of varying crops as well as methods of ensuring food safety and sanitation. These standard operating procedures will carry with the participants throughout the program and aim to develop habits that are not always second nature, but essential for running successful farm businesses and obtaining valuable certifications such as GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification and Organic certification.
At the end of the day, everyone was taught how to properly harvest squash so that they could be prepared for next week’s work day. A few mistakes were made, but our Farm Manager, James, was forgiving this time. They will waste no time in digging right in at the next work day!