The Organic Farmer Training Program, housed at Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm has announced a new curriculum format, which is intended to increase accessibility, focus on high-impact program components and decrease participant cost.
“We’re excited about this new format because of the opportunity it presents for us to reach more new and beginning farmers,” said Denae Fredheim, interim director of the MSU Student Organic Farm and Organic Farmer Training Program. “Using what we’ve learned in the past seven years, we’ve streamlined the OFTP curriculum to maximize the impact of instructional time.”
The re-designed program will be a more robust learning platform for those who are committed to owning their own farm business, managing farm operations or working with others on their paths to food production and sustainable agriculture. The changes incorporate feedback received from alumni and prospective students since the program was established in 2010.
“Our hope is that we now can serve people who would not have been able to participate under the old format, including those who hope to own their own farm as well as those who plan to take this knowledge back to existing farms and organizations to better accomplish their business goals and missions,” Friedheim said.
The new OFTP format will include instruction through lectures, readings, written assignments, hands-on demonstrations and activities, farm walks, visits to other Michigan farms and individual advising meetings. These changes provide a greater focus on technical knowledge and skills, business planning, and farm management while still providing hands-on learning.
“This new direction is a way for the SOF to teach farming techniques to a greater number of emerging growers from Michigan and beyond,” said Mike Hamm, C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and senior fellow at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. “Whether a farmer is looking to scale up and mechanize or hone in on the appropriate markets for their products, the OFTP provides the necessary tools to engage farmers in building viable businesses.”
Beginning with the 2017 cohort, students will meet one day per week for 33 weeks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m on Fridays, March 17 – Nov. 17. The cost of the program is $3,600. Scholarships are available.
Applications to the OFTP are accepted on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled. More information about the MSU Organic Farmer Training Program is available at: http://www.msuorganicfarm.org/organic-farmer-training-program.