Growing New Farmers Program

The Growing New Farmers Program provides introductory level classroom and hands-on training in sustainable agriculture, food literacy, and business development. Since the program launched in 2010, Lowcountry Local First has trained more than 190 new farmers and food systems leaders. Participants of the Growing New Farmers Program are encouraged to amplify their education through our optional apprenticeship program, which matches apprentices who seek to gain a deeper understanding of the daily operations of a working farm business with experienced mentor farmers. 

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.

The 2019 Growing New Farmers Program will take place from February 11-June 24, 2019.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through January 28, 2019.
If you have any questions, please e-mail Brian.


 

PROGRAM OFFERINGS AND REQUIREMENTS:

– Monday evening lectures at Local Works, 6-8pm
– Choice of Food Systems Leadership Training or Growing Good Food Training, for eight hours per week on-farm training
– Optional Apprenticeship link for 15-20 hours per week on-the-job training with a local farm business, bypassing the above 8 hour training requirement
– Participation in 10 required field days (6 for apprentices) on our host farm, USDA Certified Middleton Place Organic Farm, and elsewhere around the Lowcountry
– One required sales shift at farmers market
– Two hours required reading each week
– Required completion of curriculum checklist

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

The Growing New Farmers Program offers a broad-based learning approach to sustainable agriculture. A diverse curriculum developed and fine-tuned over the program’s eight year history, coupled with hands on experience in food production, provides all participants with an understanding of sustainable agriculture practices from seed to sales. The interconnectivity amongst businesses who are building a better food economy and the local farmer will be emphasized. All participants will be introduced to an invaluable network of businesses and individuals that comprise the local food system, including wholesalers, farmers market managers, equipment providers, fellow farmers and entrepreneurs, and industry professionals.

Participants will choose between three practicum paths. To meet the eight-hour per-week practicum requirements, participants will pursue either the Food Systems Leadership Training, Growing Good Food Training, or Apprenticeship track. Over the course of the program each participant will focus on specific curricular elements related to their selected path.

CHOOSE YOUR PATH:

PATH 1: Food Systems Leadership Training is an opportunity for participants to gain the knowledge and skills needed to make an impact on the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a community. Participants who choose this path will be ushered through an internship at a business outside of traditional farming that supports our local food system. That includes farmers market management, farm-to-school operations, urban agriculture, agrotourism, social justice work, and more. They will spend their practicum gaining experience in best practices in mission-driven business management and operation and experience the unique strengths and opportunities of the local foodshed as they relate to the local farming community.

PATH 2: Growing Good Food Training will provide a full season of experience, from seed to sales, in specialty crop production at Middleton Place USDA Certified Organic Farm, a 1-acre training plot. Technical training in the Growing Good Food path will cover many topics including Organic certification, GAP certification, seed starting, bed preparation, weed and pest management, cover-cropping and crop/pasture rotation, and post-harvest handling. Participants will also learn best practices for entering in to wholesale, farmers’ market, and restaurant markets. This path is for individuals whose plans involve growing food for sale or sustenance and supporting the local agronomy and are seeking a broad overview of the industry.

PATH 3: The Apprenticeship option places participants with the background and need for a more immersive experience with a local farm of the apprentice’s choice for a minimum of 15 hours/week. Through a working mentor relationship, participants will gain practical training in food production in the community.

Apprenticeship Requirements:

– Exhibiting prior experience and current need for higher level experiential training
– A commitment of four months, between February and June of 2019
– Availability of at least 15 hours per week, in addition to GNFP course
– Agreement to the terms of the apprenticeship, set forth by the Mentor Farmer
– Participation in Growing New Farmers Program Lectures
– Participation in Goal Setting and monitoring with LLF staff and Mentor Farmer
– Required participation in (6) Growing New Farmers Program field days, workshops, or field trips of your choice
– Access to attend additional GNFP field days (beyond the required coursework)
– Required completion of curriculum checklist

All apprenticeships are subject to a 30-day trial period, and may be terminated by either the apprentice or mentor at any point within the first 30 days.  A 1/2 day working interview is required for commitment.

 


For more information contact Brian Wheat, the Director of Sustainable Agriculture.

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.