Mecklenburg Extension Partners With Surrounding Counties for 2015 Piedmont Farm School

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The demand for locally grown food continues to grow despite a faltering economy. Direct sales from farms to consumers grew 215% from 1992-2007. The average farmer in NC is 57 years old, and looking forward to retirement. We need new farmers to meet the demand for locally grown food in North Carolina. Quite often people come to Cooperative Extension and say “I have some land that I want to do something with… but I don’t know what. Can you tell me what I can grow and make some money?” This is really an open ended question, because it really depends on the market and the operator on whether an agriculture venture will be successful. Any good business starts out with a good plan and lots of research. More and more families are looking at ways to supplement their incomes and put their land into something productive. The Southern Piedmont Farm School is a 7 month educational program that trains beginning and transitioning farmers with a strong commitment to operate successful small-scale sustainable farms. The school offers seven business planning seminars, which will give farmers the tools to create a viable business plan. Each business session will focus on different areas of writing a business plan including financial management and effective marketing strategies. The school also includes seven, day-long field trips at different working farms led by innovative experienced farmers and agricultural professionals. Participants will learn about low-cost sustainable farming methods, from fruits, vegetables, cows, pigs, poultry, goats, specialty crops and agritourism. The business classes will meet the second Thursday of the month beginning in January from 6-9 p.m. at the Rowan County Extension Center, and the farm field days will typically be the 4th Thursday of the month from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The farm field days will take place at various farms throughout the piedmont. Registration deadline is November 14th; one person, $250; two people, $400 Visit: for the brochure and application, or call 704-216-8970 for more information.