Backed by a nearly $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Cooperative Extension will offer a comprehensive training program for beginning farmers and those who are thinking about taking up farming.
The Kentucky's whole farm management education program, A Common Field, is a two-year course offered in 20 areas of the state. It will include face-to-face educational meetings at county extension offices, on-farm demonstrations and, in the second year, a mentor program that will connect beginning farmers with experienced producers. Program organizers are also developing an Internet-based version.
The University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University are partnering with Kentucky Women in Agriculture and the Kentucky Beef Network to offer the program.
A Common Field will be offered beginning in early 2010. Organizers have not determined the 20 areas yet, but will choose them based on farmer interest. Beginning farmers - defined by the USDA as those who have been farming for 10 years or less - or those thinking about going into farming should contact their county Cooperative Extension offices now if they are interested in participating in the program.
The funding for A Common Field comes from the USDA's new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.
For more information about the program or to express an interest in enrolling, contact the local Kentucky Cooperative Extension office.