Courses to teach crop-growing basics
If you’ve ever been attracted to the idea of for-profit vegetable farming but have only a small piece of land, an upcoming course in Floyd may be worth a look.
Tony Kleese of Earthwise Company LLC, a North Carolina farming consultant, will train would-be agribusiness entrepreneurs in starting and running a vegetable farm, according to SustainFloyd.
A free introduction to the course will be given Jan. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. at June Bug Center, 251 Parkway Lane S., about half a mile south of Floyd. The course, which costs $100, runs from Feb. 11 to March 18.
“In the six weeks, students learn about farm budgeting and planning, based on the model we put together,” Kleese said in a news release. “They will also learn the basics around crop production: soils, insect, weed and disease control, post-harvest handling — the basics of starting a farm and the business side of it.”
The course assumes the entrepreneur works alone and has only an acre and a half of land and a pickup truck with a trailer hitch. From there, the course covers all other expenses from a start‑up loan to hand tools and the steps to make money growing organic vegetables. It is designed to assist either first-time farmers looking for a stand-alone business or experienced farmers who seek to supplement a large farming operation.
Kleese’s model is designed to function in regions designated plant hardiness zone 6, which applies in higher-elevation areas of Southwest Virginia, including Floyd County.
The region’s longer growing season for cool weather crops provides an opportunity for agribusiness people to meet area market demand through creation of a regional food system that will connect farmers and consumers, the release said.
Kleese’s model “incorporates specially targeted crop-rotation techniques and high-tunnel hoophouses to produce a steady stream of high-value organic crops and meet a proven demand from regional distributors,” the release said.
SustainFloyd, a nonprofit community development organization for Floyd County, said it is working to develop a system of refrigerated transportation to these regional markets.
A second course dedicated to helping farmers write an individualized business plan will be offered in the spring.
The education series is the work of the Virginia Beginning Farmer Rancher Coalition Project, which is housed in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and sponsored by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the United States Department of Agriculture.
For more information, contact Mike Burton at 745-7333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661
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