BRISTOL, Va. – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), is now recruiting students for the 2021 Summer season of Field School. There will be two sessions held in 2021-2022; one in summer and one in winter. During both sessions, students build the knowledge, networks and confidence for planning out a farm operation to fit their land and business goals. Beginning farmers, gardeners and military veterans are encouraged to apply. Registration for 2021 Summer Field School is required: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/139669722901. Enrollment cost is $15 per session, with no fee for military veterans to participate. Questions should be directed to Jenni Roop, FARM Program Manager at jroop@asdevelop.org.

To provide emerging farmers with more tools for success, the Field School is a beginning farmer training program that provides students with an overview of small-scale farming. The Field School program began with Appalachian RC&D Council in Northeast Tennessee. In 2021, Appalachian Sustainable Development is hosting Southwest Virginia’s first annual Field School as part of the expanded offerings of its FARM program. This next phase of the program’s expansion is funded by The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) with a focus on serving the specific needs of military veterans in Central Appalachia.

ASD’s Field School will offer two sessions, taught by 20+ farmers and agricultural professionals at various locations to highlight the opportunities available. The Summer Field School (May 2021 - September 2021) has 8 on-farm sessions to explore production methods and farm enterprises that are thriving in Southwest Virginia. Session will be held on various farms including: Creative Seeds Farm, Kelly Ridge Farms, Reeds Valley Farms, Harvest Table Farm, Rhudy Livestock, Appalachian Cove Forest Farm and Homestead, Tumbling Creek Cider Company and Blue Door Garden.

The Winter Business Intensive (November 2021 - March 2022) has 8 classroom sessions where students will write business, financial and marketing plans for their farm. Summer Field School and Winter Business Intensive classes will be held the first and third Thursday of each month.

Jenni Roop, ASD’s FARM Program Manager explains, “This program prepares a regional workforce of farmers and food producers to have successful careers in agriculture as a result of this experience and training. With additional funds we received last year, we can now also give back to military veterans by providing them with this training and specific support. To meet the growing demand for local food, we need more farmers. And we also need various kinds of farmers. We feel the best way to prepare new farmers for success is to provide them with practical tools and training and a strong peer-to-peer support system.”

About ASD’s FARM program

FARM prepares aspiring and beginning farmers for successful careers in farming and food production by providing them with a direct learning experience with mentors willing to transfer practical knowledge. The program serves a diverse group of beginning farmers and teaches them about careers in agriculture as well as pathways to employment. FARM began in 2017 as a 3 year program in partnership with Appalachian RC&D Council and Rural Resources. Serving NETN and SWVA, FARM was launched with funding from a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant, https://nifa.usda.gov/program/beginning-farmer-and-rancher-development-program-bfrdp. In 2020, ASD was awarded $317,000 from The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE), https://www.usda.gov/partnerships to expand FARM and create additional opportunities for military veterans. Funds will be used over the next three years to include an initiative titled Boots on the Ground: Supporting Veterans in Agriculture, with a focus on meeting the specific needs of veterans in Central Appalachia. Acting as a portal of entry to fill ASD’s farmer pipeline, FARM prepares Appalachians for careers in agriculture through community development and coalition-building, outreach and recruitment, education, training and technical assistance, market access and help with sales and logistics.

About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)

Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development celebrated its 25th year in 2020. ASD’s mission is to build a thriving regional food and agriculture system that creates healthy communities, respects the planet and cultivates profitable opportunities for Appalachians.