PUYALLUP — This fall local farmers and those interested in becoming farmers have an opportunity to learn about new farming models. Selected county extension offices in Washington and Idaho are now taking registrations for a weekly course titled Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching. This evening course is part of an expanding series developed by the Cultivating Success program of Washington State University and the University of Idaho. Courses are already beginning in some areas, but late registrations are being accepted.
 
This 12-to-14 week course combines classroom and on-farm experience to give students lessons in technical aspects of farming along with practical whole-farm management skills. Guest speakers range from soil and compost research scientists to successful local producers. Students will tour local farm and market operations, meet key community resource people and build a network of resources and connections. In addition, class members explore Internet resources that provide critical production and marketing information.

“This course was designed for beginning farmers and for current producers who are interested in taking their farm in a new direction,” said Marcy Ostrom, director of WSU’s Small Farms Program and a co-instructor at WSU.

“The final product is a whole-farm plan that students will use to evaluate their goals and resources, and help them to assess what type of small farm enterprise is right for them,” Ostrom said. “They also leave this class with a network of professional contacts and farmer mentors they can turn to for advice and support.”

Students learn how to apply successful whole-farm management principles to small-farm operations, farming principles that focus on environmentally sustainable practices, marketplace profitability trend identification, and skills to assess the feasibility of a potential on-farm enterprise. More than 800 people in Washington and Idaho have taken the course. A second course on business planning will be offered after the holidays.

The cost of the 12-to-14 week course ranges from $125 – $200. Some scholarships are available. The course can be taken for continuing education units or college credit.
 
For information on course locations and more details about the Cultivating Success program visit www.cultivatingsuccess.org or contact:Mary Kempfert in WA at mkempfert@wsu.edu or (253) 445-4565 Amanda Snyder in ID at amsnyder@uidaho.edu or (208) 885-204

Funding for Cultivating Success is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency, USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, and USDA Higher Education Challenge Grants.