Northern Virginia may be urban in nature, but that’s no reason that local residents can’t consider a future as farmers, on a scale large or small.
The Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is now accepting applications for its 2023 Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) training season.
The BFTP provides a free, year-long immersive training experience that combines a comprehensive classroom curriculum with hands-on learning at Chesapeake region farms that employ practices that are profitable, protect land and water, and build healthy communities.
“We offer three levels of training, designed to meet the needs of new farmers at different stages, from entry-level to advanced,” organization officials said. “The program has built-in scheduling flexibility and is open to beginning farmers in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.”
Trainees receive a host of additional benefits, including:
• Free admission to the organization’s annual conference.
• Free admission to year-round field days at innovative farms as well as online programming.
• Access to a supportive network of new and experienced farmers.
The various levels:
• LEVEL 1 is designed for those who are relatively new to farming who demonstrate a strong passion and commitment to learning. No prior farm experience is required for this level, but it would also be a good fit for those with some farming experience whose schedules do not permit them to commit to one day per week of on-farm training (that is required in Level 2). Priority will be given to applicants who can demonstrate a strong interest and commitment to learning about sustainable agriculture for a full year.
• LEVEL 2 provides the most intensive, hands-on experience and is intended for those with a minimum of one year of farming experience, preferably more. In addition to attending the annual winter conference and 10-part classroom workshop series, Level 2 trainees are paired with a successful, experienced farmer trainer for a full season of shoulder-to-shoulder training. Applicants must be able to demonstrate a firm commitment to completing a full season of on-farm training, at least one day per week, from April to November. Preference will be given to applicants who are already engaged in growing and marketing.
• LEVEL 3 is intended for intermediate-level farmers who are further along in their careers and have approximately three to five seasons of experience. Applicants for this level must currently be engaged in either running their own operation or managing a farm, but not in an owner capacity. Level 3 trainees are paired with an experienced farmer-consultant – a farmer with many years of experience growing sustainably in this region – for a full season of one-on-one guidance and mentorship.
For information, see the Website at Futureharvest.org.