Series of classes guides budding farmers

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MERCER, Pa. — Whether your vision includes making goat cheese, selling cut flowers, or growing rare tomato varieties, the Exploring the Small Farm Dream course will give you the tools to start making that dream come true.

Participants will discuss current opportunities in small-scale agriculture, explore objectives, assess personal and financial resources, conduct preliminary market research and develop an action plan for pursuing their interests in food and farming.

Beginners

Even though all levels of experience are welcome, the course is specifically designed for individuals thinking about starting a farm. This includes people thinking about full-time farming, farming part-time while continuing other employment, changing careers to start a farm and/or developing an existing but informal farming pastime into a more serious business activity.

The Exploring the Small Farm Dream course consists of four sessions that are three hours each. The program will be held Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 6-9 p.m. at the Penn-Northwest Professional Center, 749 Greenville Road, Mercer.

Material

Topics covered in the sessions include: Expressing farm dreams and evaluating goals, researching the landscape and assessing resources and risk, understanding the marketplace and decision making and identification of next step.

Throughout the course, creative exercise, research and class discussions will help participants assess their skills and resources. Interviews with local farm business owners will assist in deciding how to carry a dream forward and attendees will also have the opportunity to connect with others interested in new farm enterprises.

Cost

Tuition is $90 and includes a copy of the Exploring the Small Farm Dream workbook. A short application form briefly describing experience and goals must be filled out before registering.

Contact the Mercer County Cooperative Extension office at 724-662-3141 or Erin Cuprinka at emh142@psu.edu for more information.

To ensure quality, in-depth discussions and meaningful interactions among participants, the Exploring class will be limited in size. Participants must be able to attend all sessions and conduct five hours of home study each week.

This program is developed in cooperation with the New England Small Farm Institute.

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