The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ), an organic food and farming non-profit, is offering scholarships for beginning farmers to their upcoming Fall courses. A beginning farmer is defined by the USDA as a person who has operated a farm or ranch for ten years or less. The Fall lineup of courses includes: Business of Farming, Tractor Safety and Maintenance, Skills-Scale-Sustainability, and Road to Certification. The deadline for scholarships applications is Friday, August 15th.
“We are very excited to be able to offer scholarships for beginning farmers to attend these courses,” said Erica Evans, Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator at NOFA-NJ. “Money is often tight for new farmers, and these scholarships afford them the opportunity to attend more educational trainings to improve their farm businesses and increase production.”
On Saturday, November 8th Richard Wiswall, author of “The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook ,” will teach a full day of workshops for Business of Farming, including: Farming Smarter, Not Harder: Planning for Profit, Farmer Friendly Budgets Made Simple, The Efficient Farm Office, and Employee Management. Special tips will be discussed specifically for beginning farmers, but seasoned farmers will also have lots to learn.
Also in November, Shane LaBrake will be back to teach another Tractor Safety and Maintenance course in addition to a new course, Skills-Scale-Sustainability. Often thought of as a supplemental course to Exploring the Small Farm Dream, Skills-Scale-Sustainability is a 2.5-day intensive workshop that blends philosophy and pragmatic advice with hands-on training and real-life problem solving for greater success in your small-scale agricultural endeavors. Based on lessons learned from a lifetime of work and travel in food and farming, Shane provides unique insights from his practical experience of reconciling idealism with the nitty-gritty, day-to-day reality of maintaining a viable and sustainable farming life.
Scholarships are also being offered for NOFA-NJ’s newest course, Road to Certification. This is a “how-to” course for producers interested in learning about the organic certification process, specific to New Jersey. The course includes information for conventional farmers interested in total or partial conversion to organic, beginning farmers undergoing transition, and uncertified farmers who are currently farming organically, but have avoided the process. There will be two offerings of the Road to Certification course, one each in Southampton, NJ and in Morristown, NJ.
“Thanks to a grant provided to us by the USDA, we are able to offer these scholarships. However, the funding allowing us to discount the costs of beginning farmers’ education ends this August. To take advantage of this opportunity, you must apply for your scholarships by August 15th and register using your scholarships by August 22nd,” continued Evans. “We understand it’s a tight turnaround, but missing out on these amazing courses at a discounted cost would be regrettable. No scholarships to these Fall courses will be offered after this month.”
Additional details, scholarship application request, and registration information are available at www.nofanj.org/scholarships.htm. These courses are sponsored in part by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2011-49400-30739.
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