Posted: June 28, 2011
Launched last year, Penn State Extension's Start Farming program educated 427 aspiring and beginning farmers with eighteen courses on topics ranging from farm business exploration to grass-fed beef and organic vegetables. This year is set to be even better, with 354 new farmers already attending eleven courses, and nine more courses planned.
Start Farming serves even more farmers through its website -- extension.psu.edu/start-farming -- visited more than 16,000 times by more than 11,000 visitors since mid-November. Featuring weekly updates on topics pertinent to beginning farmers, Start Farming makes resources in thirteen topic areas available online for free.
In 2010, Lehigh County's Seed Farm trained five farmers through their apprenticeship program and 24 farmers through Extension's Introduction to Organic Vegetables course. Three Seed Farm apprentices started new farms on Lehigh County-owned land in 2011 and five new apprentices from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey started the program this month. New resource additions to the Seed Farm this year include a cooler, tractor and a greenhouse, as well as transplant and weed management equipment -- eight tractor-mounted and seven hand-scale pieces. In February, The Seed Farm also launched a website -- www.theseedfarm.org -- already visited more than 4,000 times.