Organic Growers School Enhances Beginning Farmer Trainer Programs

November 9, 2020

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina- In 1993, a group of farmers and extension specialists from western North Carolina met to discuss the need for information specific to farmers in the Southern Appalachians.

Out of that meeting, the Organic Growers School was created.

“The Organic Growers School has provided practical and affordable organic education in the Southern Appalachians for 25 years,” said Cameron Farlow, the Executive Director of the Organic Growers School. “We believe that Farmer-to-Farmer education is one of the most powerful forms of education.”

With a mission to inspire, educate and support, the school provides hands-on training and workshops designed to help farmers increase their independence and sustainability. In 2018, the school saw a need to update their skills and expand their knowledge to continue to fulfill their mission.  

“We started teaching the Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training in 2015 and wanted to up our skill level as presenters and teachers,” explained Farlow.

Through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Professional Development Grants are available to help further education and outreach strategies for agriculture professionals and agriculture educators who work directly with farmers and ranchers.

The Organic Growers School received funding for a Southern SARE Professional Development Grant called “Training Innovative and Impactful Trainers to Provide Beginning Farmer Support in the Southern Appalachians” (ES18-140). Through the grant, the farmer-trainers at Organic Growers School received training on sustainable agriculture and holistic management while improving their presentation skills.

Over 40 farmer-mentors and agricultural support professionals were trained in the first year. Newly trained, they take their updated skills and abilities back into their communities to help others.  The Organic Growers School continues to offer workshops, programs and educational tools on an array of agricultural topics. For more information about the Organic Growers School and its programs, please visit their website:

Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of GeorgiaFort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, under sub-award number: . USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) ES18-140 Training Innovative and Impactful Trainers to Provide Beginning Farmer Support in the Southern Appalachians

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