Lowcountry Local First, in partnership with the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies, has opened up the call for applications to the 2019 Growing New Farmers Program. This program provides four months of curriculum-based instruction in a classroom setting, coupled with technical training in either Growing Good Food or Food Systems Leadership. The program will provide all participants with an understanding of sustainable agriculture practices, GAP and organic certification, food safety and post-harvest handling, sales and distribution, and business planning. Each participant earns a minimum of 250 training hours and a Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture through the College of Charleston. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis now through January 28th, 2019.
The Growing New Farmers Program is a program of Lowcountry Local First that began in 2010 in order to train the next generation of farmers and food system leaders. The program aims to address the supply-side issues facing the local food system by ensuring there are new farmers and food system leaders entering the market, and that all farmers interested in operating sustainable businesses are provided the tools, training and network to achieve their goals.
“After going through all the field trips and making connections in the local food system, it answered a lot of questions for me — so much so to the point where I actually decided to change my career path and now have a full time job with a local flower farmer. This program has meant everything,” said Joy Carter, a 2018 program graduate and current team member at Feast & Flora, a farm business owned by a 2015 program graduate.
“I joined the [Growing New Farmers] Program so I could find a career in a different field than I am currently in, and it worked out,” said Ben Sinderman, who now works with Vertical Roots, a local aeroponic container farm business.
With 190 graduates to date, past participants have gone on to become active business members in our food system, including Spade and Clover Gardens, Compost in My Shoe, Rooting Down Farms, The Green Heart Project, the Johns Island Farmers Market, Wit Meets Grit, Sunday Brunch Farmers Market, Murray’s Heirlooms, Lowcountry Street Grocery team members, Feast & Flora, My Honey’s Bees and others.
Applications are being accepted now through January 28, 2019. The program will begin on February 11 and conclude June 24, 2019. The program cost is $2,000, paid in monthly installments. Limited, income-based financial aid is available via application.