2/5/2016 2:35:50 PM
Lowcountry Local First, in partnership with the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies, has opened up a call for applications to the 2016 Growing New Farmers Program. This 6-month program offers a Certificate of Sustainable Agriculture and an optional apprenticeship, providing introductory agricultural production and business education while also incorporating hands-on training in the field. Applications are being accepted now through March 14, 2016.
The class size will be capped at 25 participants. The Growing New Farmers Program is a Lowcountry Local First program that began in 2010 in order to train the next generation of farmers in three phases: certificate program and apprenticeship, farm incubation and links to affordable farmland.
“The average age of a South Carolina farmer today is 59-years-old. Creating the next generation of farmers is critical for a healthy local food system,” says Jamee Haley, Executive Director at Lowcountry Local First. Lowcountry Local First is addressing the supply side issues facing the local food system by ensuring there are new farmers entering the market and all farmers interested in operating sustainable businesses are provided the tools, training and network to achieve their goals. As the only incubator farm in South Carolina, Dirt Works Incubator Farm provides critical infrastructure and a home for our Growing New Farmers Program. “From seed to sales, the program teaches production and business skills, with an emphasis on building the farmer network in the Lowcountry," explains Brian Wheat, Growing New Farmers Program Manager at Lowcountry Local First.
With over 130 graduates to date, the Growing New Farmers Program is the only ongoing farmer apprentice program in South Carolina. “I really enjoyed getting out and seeing what the farming community here was like, especially as it relates to sustainable and organic farming. It was really nice to see all the forces of good and what is going on in the community. I think it has given me a new perspective and I think I’ll be an advocate for life because of this program,” says Jennifer Balmer, a 2015 program graduate.
Applications for the Growing New Farmers Program are being accepted now through March 14, 2016. The program will begin on May 16 and conclude November 12, with a break in August. Participants will receive a minimum of 350 training hours (up to 550 with apprenticeship) and receive a Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture from the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies through the JobBridge program. The program cost is $2,400 with limited financial aid and monthly payment plans available via application.
Apply at LowcountryLocalFirst.org or by e-mailing Brian@lowcountrylocalfirst.org