Loss of Knowledge Exchange Impacts Farming Community
Posted: March 30, 2012
As the farming system in America evolved and the number of farmers drastically declined, this informal exchange of knowledge and labor slowly disappeared.
The evolution in agriculture brought with it a shift to large scale single-crop farming that revolutionized food production. However, within the last decade, many people have begun to challenge this system and its associated risks to human and environmental health. Demand for locally and sustainably grown food has steadily increased and a growing number of new farmers are entering the market to fill these demands through small scale, diverse, sustainable and/or organic production.
Many of these beginning growers are transferring from other careers and have no background in farming. They have the enthusiasm but lack the production and in some cases business experience or knowledge to create a successful enterprise. The disconnect that exists between these beginning farmers and older established farms can leave current farmers in need of skilled labor, but without the time or resources to train these new laborers themselves. Without production knowledge and experience, new farmers may be unable to secure financing for equipment and land, preventing them from entering the business at all.
Penn State Extension is addressing several of the training needs of these farmers through educational programming that helps new and established growers build their businesses. Interested, check out what programs are coming up this year at the Allegheny County Extension office:
"Are You Crazy?" Retail Farm Market Tour
Monday & Tuesday July 9-10, 2012
Join PSU and OSU extension personnel for a two day bus tour through western PA and eastern OH to visit businesses who exemplify success at marketing farm products. We will tour eight premier farms and businesses including Soergel’s Orchards, Volant Village, Wilhelm Winery, White House Fruit Market, Covered Bridge Gardens, Molnar Farms. This is a great chance for peer marketing, sharing and learning! Price includes overnight hotel in Meadville, PA, snacks, breakfast on day 2, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, and deluxe motor coach transport. Farm market owners, managers, other personal or anyone interested in seeing and learning from retail farm market and agrotourism entrepreneurs are encouraged to join. Space is limited; please contact Penn State Extension – Allegheny County at (412) 473-2540 to register or Heather Mikulas at firstname.lastname@example.org . Your registration fee depends on how many are staying in your hotel room:
Early Bird Registration (by June 11):
Per person / double occupancy: $ 180.00
Per person / single occupancy: $240.00
Regular Price (June 12-25):
Per person / double occupancy: $ 210.00
Per person / single occupancy:$255.00
For a brochure on this tour http://extension.psu.edu/allegheny/events/files/are-you-crazy-retail-farm-market-tour/view .
Exploring the Small Farm Dream:
Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You?
Wednesday Evenings, 6 to 8 pm - October 3, 10, 24 and 31
Whether your vision includes making goat cheese, selling cut flowers, or growing rare tomato varieties, this course will give you the tools to start making that dream come true. Participants will discuss current opportunities in small-scale agriculture, explore objectives, assess personal and financial resources, conduct preliminary market research, and develop an action plan for pursuing their interests in food and farming. All levels of experience are welcome. If you are thinking about starting a farm, this course is designed for you. The class is $100 or $150 per couple / business unit, contact Heather Mikulas at 412-473-2540 or email@example.com to register.