Williamson County hosts Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings course

Williamson County hosts Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings course

MARION, IL (KFVS) - Williamson County will be the site of the 2017-18 class of Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings.

This is a farmer-taught, community based program for people seeking to create a sustainable small farm business.

Farm Beginnings is now enrolling from across the region.

"Farm Beginnings grows farmers," said Kathleen Logan Smith, Executive Director for Food Works. "With experienced farmers nearing retirement and a new generation of farmers needed, there's opportunity in the market for beginning farmers to build sustainable small farm businesses and Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings is a proven way to do it."

The 12-month program includes 48 hours of winter seminars where experienced farmers and farm advisors share their expertise with students.

Students receive texts, instruction and other materials.

A six-month mentorship then pairs students with an experienced farmer while students develop specific skills pertaining to their enterprise.

Graduates also receive a 12-month membership in the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance, where they will have opportunities for on-farm field days and workshops.

Farm Beginnings is built on a model pioneered more than 20 years ago by the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota and is now offered in 11 regions of the United States, including in three regions in Illinois.

Nationally, the programs train hundreds of farmers every year.

Farm Beginnings can also help people strengthen their qualifications for farm ownership and operating loans because of its robust financial planning components.

The 2017 Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings classes will meet in Marion, Il at classroom and farm locations.

Interested people from Southern Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana are encouraged to apply at Food Works' website: http://www.fwsoil.org/farm-beginnings.html or call (618) 370-3287.

Seminars begin in October and meet until February.

Students may enroll through Oct. 2, 2017.

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