OK, so you’ve been working on farms for a couple of years – now what?
That’s the dilemma a lot of beginning farmers face, and it’s one that the folks at Rogue Farm Corps (RFC) are working to address.
Based in Oregon’s Rogue and Southern Willamette Valleys, RFC brings together hands-on training, classroom learning and farm-based experience on a diverse network of commercial family farms to provide opportunities for beginners to train to launch their own farm business.
While the FarmsNext program is oriented to those will no prior experience, the FarmsNOW advanced program is designed to take beginning farmers that extra step, prepping them for running a successful independent business.
Starting this March for the next two-year cohort, the program has three areas of educational focus:
Field-based training and hands-on learning
Students will be expected to share responsibilities with the farmers. Tasks include overseeing transplant crew and harvest crew, helping with wash and pack, tractor cultivation, field walks and observation, record keeping, produce deliveries, setting up and running farmers markets and general farm maintenance.
Practical skills and business classes and seminars
In addition to the hands-on training provided by Blue Fox Farm, interns will attend a series of classes facilitated by RFC and OSU Extension Small Farms.
For example, classroom/seminar topics may include:
- Managing labor & human resources
- Choosing & maintaining farm equipment
- Designing irrigation systems
- Enterprise selection & diversification
- Integrating perennial & annual cropping systems
- Post-harvest handling/food safety
- Long-term soil fertility/advanced soil science
- Book-keeping/income & expense tracking/cash flow
Peer to peer networking
Students in the FarmsNOW program will have the opportunity to meet and network with local farmers and agricultural professionals. RFC will organize farm tours and will host potluck discussion circles to bring together partners from across the agricultural community.