Small and mid-sized farm owners in Idaho are studying about agriculture in an 8-week course launched by the University of Idaho online yesterday. The course offers tips on sustainable farming approaches and helps the smaller size producers get involved with direct sales markets.
"The course gives students a broad overview of production and marketing options for today's small farms," says instructor Cinda Williams, a UI Extension educator in Moscow.
"Participants learn the process of matching their goals and resources to determine what is feasible. An essential part of the class is the network developed between classmates and with established sustainable farmers."
The course, "Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching," is conducted in webinars Tuesday evenings. The cost is only $50 following a Western Center for Risk Management financial program which assumes the rest of the $195 original expense of the program.
The courses are also supported by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The classes are offered not only to Idaho farmers, but to producers in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington as well.
"There is an increasing need for online education for farmers and ranchers who lead buys lives and are unable to attend evening or weekend classes or workshops," says Colette DePhelps, who manages the interactive course website and webinars.
Course topics include whole farm planning, resource evaluation, site appropriate production practices, enterprise budgeting, market analysis, risk management and food safety.
When the course is completed, project participants will have a draft of a whole farm plan and the knowledge skills to complete and implement it, says DePhelps. Course webinar presenters include successful local producers and university specialists in direct marketing, value-added processing, and production planning.
The course is a function of the Cultivating Success Small Farm Education Program, a collaboration of UI, Washington State University, and Rural Roots, a non-profit unit.
For more information on the program go to http://www.ruralroots.org/programs/susfarming.asp.