MSU Organic Farmer Training Program New Format Will Be More Robust and More Accessible

The re-designed program will be a more robust learning platform for those who are committed to owning their own farm business, managing farm operations, or working with others on their paths to food production and sustainable agriculture.

December 8, 2016 - Authors: Denae FriedheimAndrea Weiss

The new curriculum format aims to increase accessibility, focus on the highest-impact program components, and decrease participant cost while providing greater focus on technical knowledge and skills.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

East Lansing, Michigan – The Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP) housed at Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm has announced a new curriculum format, which is intended to increase accessibility, focus on the highest-impact program components, and decrease participant cost while providing greater focus on technical knowledge and skills.

“We’re excited about this new format because of the opportunity it presents for us to reach more new and beginning farmers,” said Denae Fredheim, Interim Director of the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm and Organic Farmer Training Program. “Using what we’ve learned in the past 7 years, we’ve streamlined the OFTP curriculum to maximize the impact of instructional time. Now, participants can complete the program without having to make substantial sacrifices to other important life commitments.”

The re-designed program will be a more robust learning platform for those who are committed to owning their own farm business, managing farm operations, or working with others on their paths to food production and sustainable agriculture. Beginning with the 2017 cohort, students will meet one day per week for thirty-three weeks on Fridays 9:00am-5:00pm from March 17-November 17. The cost of the program is $3,600. Scholarships are available.

The changes incorporate feedback received from alumni and prospective students since the program was established in 2010. In particular, time and financial pressures were noted as barriers under the former curriculum, which was a full-time commitment costing $8,900.

“Our hope is that we now can serve people who would not have been able to participate under the old format, including those who hope to own their own farm as well as those who plan to take this knowledge back to existing farms and organizations to better accomplish their business goals and missions,” said Fredheim.

The new OFTP format will include instruction through lectures, readings, written assignments, hands-on demonstrations and activities, farm walks, visits to other Michigan farms, and individual advising meetings. These changes provide a greater focus on technical knowledge and skills, business planning, and farm management while still providing hands-on learning.

“This new direction is a way for the SOF to teach farming techniques to a greater number of emerging growers from Michigan and beyond,” said Dr. Mike Hamm, C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Fellow at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. “Whether a farmer is looking to scale up and mechanize or hone in on the appropriate markets for their products, the OFTP provides the necessary tools to engage farmers in building viable businesses.”

Applications to the OFTP are accepted on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled.  More information about the MSU Organic Farmer Training Program is available at: http://www.msuorganicfarm.org/organic-farmer-training-program.

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) engages the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in developing regionally integrated sustainable food systems. CRFS extends MSU’s pioneering legacy of applied research, education and outreach by catalyzing collaboration and fostering innovation among the diverse range of people, processes and places involved in regional food systems. Our vision is a thriving economy, equity and sustainability for Michigan, the country and the planet through food systems rooted in local regions and centered on Good Food: food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable. Learn more at http://foodsystems.msu.edu and connect on Twitter and Facebook: @MSUCRFS.


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