Farm Beginnings is a farmer-led training and support program offered by Dakota Rural Action that provides participants an opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming and offers the tools to successfully launch a farm enterprise.
What is the course?
Farm Beginnings is a training program taught by local farmers that provides participants with the support and education needed to launch a profitable and sustainable farm enterprise. Classes begin in November and are held in Sioux Falls. Class size is limited, and scholarships are available to help with tuition costs. Beginning farmers of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to apply and participants do not need to currently own land.
This is the fourth year DRA has offered the Farm Beginnings course. Winter classes are held every other Saturday. All sessions are led by established local farmers and agriculture professionals and provide real world skills in areas such as Whole Farm Planning, Financial Planning, Marketing, Business Planning, Connecting with Resources, and Connecting with Mentors. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of on-farm tours and skills sessions offered during the spring and summer, as well as engage in mentorships or apprenticeships with local farmers.
The course provides a solid base of knowledge around farm business planning as well as the opportunity to network with both beginning and established farmer mentors.
Who should take Farm Beginnings?
Anyone interested in developing or transitioning their farm enterprise. Participants can be of any age, do not need to own land, and prospective, beginning, part-time, and full-time farmers are welcome!
What kind of enterprises are participants engaged in?
Participants come with a wide array of sustainable farming interests and experience, including:
- Cattle, hogs, goats, poultry, and other livestock
- Vegetable and fruit production
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets
- Fiber production
- Specialty products like value-added foods
The size and scale of production ranges from very small (just a few acres or a small urban plot) to large (hundreds or thousands of acres in production). Experience levels range from no experience farming to currently owning and operating their own farm.
Read about some of the experiences of people who have completed the course:
Is there an on-farm component?
Yes, the course is closely connected to DRA’s Farmer Network, a group devoted to making connections between beginning and established farmers through resource sharing and education. Opportunities within the Farmer Network include access to on-farm internships/apprenticeships, farm tours and skills sessions, land and equipment linking, and more.
When does the next class start?
The next class begins in fall 2013.
How do I apply?
Applications can be completed online, just email to request the application. Information packets and paper copies of the application are also available.
Have questions about the course tuition, the application process, or would like to request an information packet? Contact Us!
Organizer/Farm Beginnings Facilitator
Dakota Rural Action
PO Box 549
Brookings, SD 57006
Ph: 605.697.5204 Ex: 220
DRA’s Farm Beginnings program is a member of the The Farm Beginnings® Collaborative, a national alliance of independent regional groups of farmers and farmer-training support organizations working together to promote Farm Beginnings, a farmer training model that is community based and farmer led.
This project was supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-03066.