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Penn State Launches 'Start Farming'- Classes, Workshops, Demonstrations and Information for Beginning Farmers

Posted: January 17, 2011

Penn State Extension recently teamed up with PA Farmlink and the Seed Farm – a Lehigh County agricultural incubator project – to help increase the success of beginning farmers’ through abundant educational programming and materials. They offer 19 courses in production and marketing techniques, web based information and blogs, individual consultation and on farm training. At the Seed Farm, new farmers are starting their businesses on county-owned land with guidance and mentorship from an experienced farm manager.

“It was an exciting year with more than 400 new and aspiring farmers completing courses. Half of the participants are already farming and another forty percent plan to start farming soon.” said program director, Tianna DuPont.

Nineteen annual educational programs in ten production and marketing areas taught across the 8-county region address the three main barriers to farm entry: lack of training, land and capital.

Courses include:

  • Living on a Few Acres (4 Locations: Bucks, Berks, Schuylkill, and Northampton)
  • ABCs of Beekeeping
  • New Farmer Potato Introduction
  • Introduction to Soils
  • Grazing School
  • Pasture Management Short Course
  • Food for Profit
  • Backyard Poultry Short Course
  • Exploring the Small Farm Dream
  • Breaking the Barriers – Access to Land, Capital and Equipment for Farm Start-ups
  • Sheep Shearing School
  • Novice Farmer Study Circles (2 locations: Chester and Lehigh)

To provide beginning farmers in Pennsylvania and beyond with online access to start up information 24/7, Penn State Extension launched the Start Farming website. The website features frequently updated articles with information on land, equipment, capital, fruit/berries, bees, chickens, pigs, and beef, sheep and goats. Website visitors can also tap into resources such as “Ask the Expert,” “Land Available,” “FAQs” and details on upcoming courses. Join their 'Blog' to receive articles and updates on upcoming classes.

The Start Farming Program team strives to help new farmers start and become more profitable, productive, environmentally sound, and engaged in their communities. If you have questions about this program, or want to get involved, contact Alison Grantham at amg31@psu.edu or 610-746-1970 ext. 8336.  Visit the Start Farming website for a listing of all scheduled courses.

Funding for this program is provided by the Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, Extension; and by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2009-49400-05869.