Various Locations, Oregon
FarmsNext is a full season of hands-on training and skill-based education in sustainable agriculture for aspiring farmers and ranchers. Through an innovative and cooperative model, FarmsNext combines up to 1500 hours of field training with a mentor farmer, 75 hours of classroom learning with agricultural professionals and expert farmers, 15 tours of local farms, and opportunities for farm-based independent study on a diverse network of commercial family farms across Oregon’s agricultural communities. Chapter locations include the Rogue Valley, South Willamette, Portland and Central Oregon.
FarmsNext is an immersive experience that will leave students with a deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, a foundation of entrepreneurial skills, and practical knowledge to plan for and start their own farming operation. Students will live and work full-time on a host farm, receive ongoing training, and learn in-depth skills from their mentor farmer.
The companion classroom component, farm tours, discussion circles, and independent study will deepen the experience and expose students to the vast array of knowledge and expertise in our farming community. In addition, students in FarmsNext are offered an unparalleled sense of community and social networking as they engage in the daily life of a vibrant agricultural economy.
FarmsNext offers opportunity for hands-on training in:
• Organic vegetable, herb, seed and flower production at various scales.
• Marketing techniques, including direct marketing through farmers markets, restaurant sales and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
• Raising livestock, including cattle, goats, poultry, sheep, and hogs.
• Farmstead dairying, including cheese making, with cows and goats.
• Farm-based education and agri-tourism opportunities.
1. Field-based training and on-farm work experience (30-40 hours/week)
The majority of this program is focused on learning by doing, while under the close supervision and mentorship of your host farmer. Students will work both cooperatively with the host farmer and independently to develop skills and accomplish the daily tasks and farm work. These tasks will vary according to each host farm and it’s production methods.
Students will be provided with skill-based training curriculum unique to their host farm site. Host farmers will offer close supervision and consistent mentoring to promote mastery of the basic skills needed to operate their farm. Students will be exposed to all aspects of the farm operation and develop skills throughout the season. Students will be expected to keep a weekly reflective journal on what they are learning and experiencing. Two times per season, RFC’s Chapter Coordinators will conduct on-site evaluations to ensure that the education and training goals are being met and agreements are being honored.
2. Practical Skills Classes (Weekly at beginning of the season, followed by two to three classes per month)
Students in the FarmsNext program will join together for group classes and lectures taught by agricultural professionals from Oregon State University and expert farmers. Some classes are held in a traditional classroom setting, while others are held in the field.
3. Farm tours (2-3 times a month throughout the farming season)
Once the farming season is underway, students will have the opportunity to meet, observe, learn and potentially work with other farmers in the local community. Farmers will lead a farm tour while incorporating time for questions, discussions, and demonstrations, allowing for students to have a more interactive learning experience. These farm tours and on-farm classes will expose the students to a number of different operations, techniques and farming styles. Continue reading