Beginner Farmer Training Program

Beginner Farmer Training Program

Now Accepting Applications for the 2012 Beginner Farmer Training Program

Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is now accepting applications from new farmers across the Chesapeake region interested in participating in the Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) 2012 program year.

We recruit five to ten trainees, mostly college graduates with some farming experience and a commitment to a career in sustainable and/or organic agriculture.  The program is free to participants. Email a statement of interest, resume, and 3 professional references to Cathy Tipper, crtipper@aol.com, by December 31, 2011. For more information about the program, visit www.futureharvestcasa.org or call Cathy at 410-218-3620.

Accepted applicants will participate in four program areas beginning January 13, 2012:

1.      Winter Workshops – University of Maryland Extension Baltimore County coordinates university professionals and other guest speakers to teach aspiring new farmers through a series of classes, one evening per week for 8 weeks, in February and March at the new Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture.  Topics include: Marketing Essentials; Small Farm Business Planning; Soil Fertility and Conservation; Season Extension; Small Farm Business Planning; Pest, Disease, and Weed Management; GAP and Post Handling, and Organic Certification. These workshops are open to the public for a small fee.  Selected BFTP trainees do not have to pay the fee. The trainees also attend a “Seed” potluck dinner meeting, a “Tools and Supplies” dinner meeting, and a “Chef Needs” dinner meeting, led by Baltimore’s renowned sustainable local food restaurant entrepreneur, Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen.

2.     Field Training – BFTP trainees will gain hands-on experience practicing on a weekly basis with either Jack and Becky Gurley from Calvert’s Gift Organic Herb and Vegetable Farm in Baltimore Country or Tom Padwano and Sarah Rider from Flying Plow Farm (diversified organic farm) in Harford County.   The shoulder to shoulder hands-on training covers a broad range of topics beginning with soil and sowing and ending with harvesting and post handling. Also included are discussions and hands-on experience on the topics listed in #1 above.

3.     Farm Tours/Workshops – From May through August the BFTP group participates in tours and training at various sustainable farms in the region including the new farms of training program graduates, with a newly added session at Hybridoma Organic Berry Farm.  Usually the tours end in the evening with a potluck dinner which enables the BFTP farmers to ask more questions and to develop a sense of camaraderie.  This support network, which continues to develop over the years, is one of the greatest benefits of the program.

4.     Future Harvest CASA Conference – At the beginning of the BFTP year, all trainees attend one of the agricultural conferences in January or February.  In 2012, trainees will attend the Future Harvest CASA Conference on January 13-14, 2012 at the National Conference Center – Landsdowne, Virginia.  There will be a lunch meeting at the conference to meet and discuss the BFTP plan for the year.

Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (Future Harvest CASA) is a nonprofit organization representing a regional network of farmers, agricultural professionals, landowners and consumers living and working in the Chesapeake region. Future Harvest CASA promotes profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable food and farming systems that work to sustain communities.

The Beginner Farmer Training Program is operated in partnership with Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC).