NC Farm School in the Piedmont

— Written By Annie Mills and last updated by Jill Cofer
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Tomatoes at Farm SchoolStarting a farm business poses unique challenges for new producers and farmers transitioning to a new agricultural enterprise. There are only so many growing seasons in the average lifetime of a farmer and capital can be tied up in land or equipment, meaning that there are limited opportunities to “try again.” Understanding marketing opportunities and the logistics of running a farm can also be regionally specific. That is why NC Farm School is here to help. We have many Cooperative Extension programs that focus on the science of farming, but this program focuses on the business side of things. By bringing together prospective and existing farmers, extension specialists, and extension agents, NC Farm School helps strengthen our agricultural industry and ultimately increase the number of successful farmers in North Carolina.

This program is delivered by Extension staff in four to six counties who work together to provide classroom presentations and deliver business curriculum to students over a four-month period. NC Farm School students receive consultations with experienced business consultants, farm tours on economically sustainable farms, mentoring with local farmers, and the opportunity to network with a community dedicated to helping students develop their business. Farm visits to local farms allow students to see how what they learned in class can be applied on an economically sustainable farm. Over the course of the program, students are expected to apply what they learn in class by completing homework and utilizing a web-based business plan template. By utilizing a “learn-plan-do” model, farm school guides students through the various processes needed to develop or improve their agricultural enterprise.

In 2022, NC Farm School will be offered in two separate locations in the Piedmont. Hosts include the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Durham County Center, and the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Davie County Center. The applications for 2022 NC Farm School in the Piedmont can be found on the NC Farm School website along with the full schedules and names of participating extension agents. If you are interested in NC Farm School in either of these locations, a good first step is to touch base with your local county agent.

Applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis through the fall, until mid-December. Cost for NC Farm School is $399 per person or $599 per pair.

Check out this video to learn more about what previous graduates gained from NC Farm School.