The face of agriculture changes each year as older farmers retire and new farmers take up the profession.
Given the nature of modern agriculture, it can be difficult to get started. Capital and infrastructure are frequently cited as barriers to beginning agricultural enterprises, but lack of farming experience is close behind.
For those who might have access to land but are unsure of where to begin with planning a successful farm, Tennessee State University is offering the Tennessee New Farmer Academy for beginning farmers, ranchers and returning veterans.
The academy is a six-month long certificate program running from June to November that will give participants the information and contacts they need to develop their own small farm enterprise.
Entrants in the program will experience a rigorous combination of academic work and hands-on practical training, in addition to being given the opportunity to build a farming support network. Each student will be paired up with a mentor-farmer and will attend a once-a-month workshop on the main TSU Campus and TSU Demonstration Farm in Nashville.
Some of the topics that will be covered in the Academy will be Financial Planning, Enterprise Selection, Fruit and Vegetable Production, and Small-Flock Poultry. Presenters will be either current operators of successful agricultural enterprises or experts on the relevant subject matter. Regardless of current level of farming experience, participants will graduate from the program with the tools and resources they need to begin their own small farm business.
The academy will hold its first class on June 16 and will meet every third Monday until mid-November. Registration is $150 and payment is due by May 30.
If you have any questions about the Tennessee New Farmer Academy or would like to enroll, you can contact Bradley County Extension Agent Patrick Sweatt at the UT/TSU Extension Office at 423-728-7001 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.