Training the next generation of farmers in the many skills required to start and expand a successful farm business
What is the Farm Beginnings® Program?
Farm Beginnings® is training the next generation of farmers in the many skills required to start and expand a successful farm business: passion, clear goals, production experience, financial and marketing know-how, and more.
Farm Beginnings® will help you build these skills through one year of farmer-led training, mentoring, and networking. We support individuals in clarifying their goals and strengths, developing agricultural skills, and growing profitable, equitable, and ecologically sound farm businesses.
The OGS Approach
Guided by our commitment to social justice, our programming is led by farmers and mentors active in food, farming, or social justice. By empowering people with skills, knowledge, and access to resources, together we can build a more diverse, equitable food system that enriches the environment and creates a thriving food and farming community.
We use a holistic management frame, farmer-led classroom sessions, on-farm tours, mentoring, and an extensive farmer network. The topics of equity and justice in the food systems are woven into the curriculum, including examples of realistic approaches within the scope of your business models.
What does Farm Beginnings® include?
The 200+ hr, year-long program consists of:
Training on holistic management, farm business, marketing & financial planning
Sessions taught by regional, experienced farmers
One-year WNC CRAFT Farmer Network membership
Completing and presenting an individualized farm plan
Access to field days with regional partners
Entry to ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference
Entry to OGS’s Spring Conference
15 hr mentorship with an experienced farmer mentor
View a sample of the full course schedule here.
Meet the Instructors
Tuition Payment & Policies:
Cost: $3000 per farm for the current class for up to two farm partners
View our other options below if you need financial support.
An early bird discount may be applied if the application is received by the designated deadline ($100 off tuition).
Organic Growers School aims to create affordable, broadly accessible programs while at the same time providing fair wages to our farmer instructors and dedicated staff. Financial aid for Farm Beginnings® is limited, and priority is given to Black, Indigenous, and beginning farmers of color, LGBTQ+, and other socially disadvantaged individuals.
We encourage you to consider a payment plan as your first option for financial support. Also, see our list of Other financial aid resources below. If requesting funding from OGS is necessary, we ask you to consider what would be a stretch, but not a strain, for you to invest in your education. We will consider the applicant’s level of community involvement and engagement in work related to social justice and sustainable agriculture in Southern Appalachia.
Passion and capacity for farming
Ability and willingness to give back to the program
Understanding the value of this farmer training education
Submit a scholarship application simultaneously with your Farm Beginnings® application; if you submit your application online, follow the link at the end of your application to apply for a scholarship. You will then be prompted to submit the scholarship application questions. If farm partners reside together and share finances, both parties need to submit financial information.
We offer a few work-trade spots for an additional tuition discount. Please indicate on the application if you are interested in this. Work-trade entails committing to agreed-upon tasks to assist OGS, such as online support during class, help with in-person room set-up and clean-up during in-person events, OGS marketing tasks for other events as needed, etc.
This option ONLY applies to Farm Beginnings® students.* The work trade is based on a living wage of Buncombe County, and we offer 16 hours of trade.
Payment plans are available and allow participants to pay the Farm Beginnings® fee in four installments. The first payment is due after receiving your letter of acceptance to secure your spot in the class. Payment plans will be signed and managed by the finance coordinator.
Subsequent payments are due in the following months, or as otherwise agreed upon. Payments can be made by check, debit, or credit card. There is a $15 fee for late or missed payments.
Please let us know if you are interested, and we will make arrangements for you to pay via check or online automatic withdrawals.
Cancellation of a Farm Beginnings® registration before October 15 will result in a return of half of your deposit. No refunds are available after October 15.
If you cannot attend for any reason, you may reserve your spot in the next year's Farm Beginnings® course. If you have to withdraw during the course, refunds cannot be made.
If you are unable to attend the current course, we are happy to send you documentation so that your tuition fee can be recorded as a tax-deductible contribution to the ongoing work of the OGS.
Farm Beginnings® farmer training is approved by the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) as an education vendor. As a Farm Beginnings® graduate, your training counts as a year of farm management experience when you apply for a farmland loan through the Farm Service Agency.
Although students do not need to own land, some farming or production experience is required to get the most out of the program.