Over 1,000 attendees joined Georgia Organics to celebrate 20 years of incredible growth in the good food movement and honor four graduates from last year’s Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program.
Led by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension with support from partners across the state, Georgia Organics and UGA Extension helped to provide comprehensive training for beginning farmers designed to reduce the barriers young and beginning farmers face when trying to grow new agricultural businesses from the ground up.
The program aims to reduce the average age of farmers in the United States, which is currently at 58 years-old and rising.
“Beginning farmers and ranchers are the key to preserving small-farming in the United States, and the Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program is our way of helping to sustain the small farmer’s role in Georgia’s agricultural sector,” said Georgia Organics Farmer Services Coordinator Tenisio Seanima.
Graduates Julie Best, of Clayton; Azalea Moss, of Austell; Lonnie Edenfield, of Toccoa and Martine Olsen, of Clarkesville received business training, production training, and either an internship or mentorship depending on their circumstances.
Moss interned with Truly Living Well in downtown Atlanta. Best interned with LadyBug Farms in Clayton, Georgia. Olsen was mentored by Ed Taylor of Indian Ridge Farm in Clarkesville, Georgia and Edenfield were mentored by Alex Rilko of Front Field Farm in Winterville, Georgia.
"This program —with its emphasis on business planning, small ruminant production, and vegetable farming — was designed to help these farmers turn their passion into a livelihood,” said Julia Gaskin, sustainable agriculture coordinator for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Journeyman Farmer program coordinator. “We hope this program will help give them the skills they need to support their own families while they follow their hearts."
JFCP will continue in 2017, providing courses in seven counties for anyone who has been farming less than ten years continuously: Carroll, Screven, Dougherty, Metro Atlanta, Banks, Houston, and Greene.
Interested farmers will first attend one of two different Small Farm Business Planning trainings: AgAware program run by AgCredit, or Small Farm Business Planning Training. The business training offered in your area is selected by the extension team hosting the training in your area.
The next step is production training. Small Fruit & Vegetable Production is a seven-week training developed in partnership with Georgia Organics and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. Small Ruminant Production is a six week training developed by Fort Valley State University in partnership with UGA Extension.
The trainings are followed up by internships or mentorships with existing farmers in Georgia.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/GO-JFCPfor more details and extension.uga.edu for more information about the ways UGA Extension supports Georgia’s farmers.