Growing New Farmers Program

The Growing New Farmers Program provides introductory level classroom and hands-on training in farm production and business planning. We offer optional apprenticeship placement with a mentor farmer that provides extended job-based training proven to be invaluable when venturing in to the world of small to mid-sized sustainable farming. Since 2010 we have trained 167 new farmers and food systems leaders in the Lowcountry and look forward to growing our resilient local food system with you.

The 2018 Program is currently underway. If you’d like to be added to the outreach list for 2019 Program applications, please e-mail Brian.

Selected participants will explore their interest in agriculture as they receive 6 months of experiential, hands-on learning in the field combined with curriculum-based instruction in a traditional classroom setting. All participants will experience introductory-level training including coursework, field trips, workshops, networking, and regular field days on the 1-acre teaching plot at Middleton Place USDA Certified Organic Farm. Qualified applicants are provided the opportunity to be matched with one of over 20 qualified local farmer or food system business mentors to gain hands-on experience relevant to their interests.  Participants will receive a minimum of 250 training hours (500+ with apprenticeship) and receive a Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Continuing Education Units from the College of Charleston through the School of Professional Studies’ Job Bridge Program.

Past participants have gone on to become active business members in our food system, including Spade and Clover Gardens, Compost in My Shoe, Rooting Down Farms, The Green Heart Project, the Johns Island Farmers Market, Wit Meets Grit, Sunday Brunch Farmers Market, Murray’s Heirlooms, Lowcountry Street Grocery, Lowcountry Flower Growers, and Lowcountry Flower Collective to name a few, along with many holding a variety of positions in the local agriculture industry.

SCHEDULE:
Program dates: March 5 – August 27, 2018
 (includes a break during the first two weeks in July)
– Monday evening lectures at Local Works, 6-8 p.m.
-Choice of Wednesday OR Thursday morning field days at Middleton Place USDA Certified Organic Farm, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
– 1-2 hours required reading each week on your own time
– An optional business planning course will be available to participants through separate application post-graduation in the fall of 2018. Details to be announced.

COST: $2,000 program fee. A $400 deposit is required to secure enrollment. The remaining cost will be paid monthly. Limited, income-based financial aid is available via application.

For more information contact Brian Wheat, the Growing New Farmers Program Manager.

The Growing New Farmers Program is made possible by many community partners and donors, including:

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Charleston County Economic Development, SCDA Specialty Crop Grant Block, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Pathfinder Foundation, Charleston Soil and Water Conservation, and US Small Business Association.

Watch the Growing New Farmers Program Videos:

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Proudly recognized as one of Food Tank and James Beard Foundation’s 2016 Good Food Organizations.

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Lowcountry Local First is an equal opportunity provider and employer.