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UGA offers beginning small farmer training
Clark MacAllister MUG
Clark MacAllister.

The local food movement seems to be gaining more and more momentum every year. People are more interested now in the quality of their produce and where it comes from. A new group of farmers has emerged supporting these changing attitudes- the small-scale local farmer.

This new breed of small-scale farmer comes from many backgrounds- retired professionals, millennials, stay-at-home parents and many others. But all of these people face similar challenges, such as access to farmable land, startup capital, lack of agricultural education and training and lack of on-the-job training. Luckily, UGA Extension is offering training aimed at addressing the needs of new and potential small-scale farmers.

The Journeyman Farmer Certificate program is a comprehensive, three-part training delivered through UGA Extension agents. Forsyth County Extension will be hosting the multi-session training at Lanier Technical College in Cumming beginning in January 2018.

Part one of the training covers Small Farm Business Planning during two Saturday sessions, Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. Speakers will come from the UGA Small Business Development Center and experienced local small farmers. Topics to be addressed include building a business plan, financial record keeping practices, licensing and regulations, risk management, and product marketing decisions.

Part two covers Vegetable and Small Fruit Production, a seven-session training which runs Thursday evenings from Feb.15 through March 27, and one Saturday session on Feb. 24. UGA Extension agents and specialists will present on food production essentials, including soil fertility, soil amendments and cover crops, integrated pest management, crop selection and propagation, irrigation and equipment, food safety issues and crop planning and marketing.

Both trainings include interactive learning, and participants will be able to visit local farms during the Vegetable and Small Fruit Production training.

 Parts one and two may be taken independently of each other.

Participants who successfully complete and earn certification for both parts one and two are eligible to apply for part three, a hands-on learning component in the form of an internship on a local farm, a mentor, or an incubator farm opportunity. Part three opportunities are limited and placement is not guaranteed.

To register for either or both Journeyman Farmer sessions, call the Forsyth County Extension office at (770) 887-2418. There is a $75 fee to participate.