Dakota Rural Action’s “Farm Beginnings®” course will be offered virtually and in person. In-person classes will be held in Sturgis and on-farm training will be held throughout the state.

“Farm Beginnings” is a farmer and rancher-led training and support program that provides participants the opportunity to learn first-hand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming and ranching and the tools to successfully launch a profitable enterprise. This farmer training is unique in that it is farmer-led, community based and focused on sustainable agriculture. “Farm Beginnings” is a training program taught by local farmers and ranchers that provides participants with the support and education needed to launch a profitable and sustainable enterprise.

Who should take “Farm Beginnings”? Anyone interested in developing or transitioning their enterprise. Participants can be of any age, do not need to own land, and prospective, beginning, part-time, and full-time farmers are welcome.

What kind of enterprises are participants engaged in? Participants come with a wide array of sustainable farming interests and experience, including:

● Cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, poultry and other livestock

● Dairy

● Grazing

● Vegetable and fruit production

● High Tunnels

● Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets

● Crops and Hay

● Fiber production

● Specialty products like value-added foods

● Flowers and herbs

The size and scale of production ranges from very small (just a few acres or a small urban plot) to large (hundreds or thousands of acres in production). Experience levels range from no experience farming to currently owning and operating their own farm.

Prospective participants should contact Dakota Rural Action at (605) 697-5204 ext. 280 or email Matthew West at mwest@dakotarural.org. Class size is limited and early application is encouraged. Application deadline for this year's class is Jan. 25. There are a limited amount of scholarships available to help with tuition costs. Course information and online application can be found at www.dakotarural.org/grow.

“Farm Beginnings®” is emerging as the most effective way to increase the number of beginning farmers who are building food and farm economies that are green, fair, and healthy. Farm Beginnings is recognized as “a model that is creating strong new farm businesses across the country” by Kathleen Merrigan then U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture (in her 2012 remarks to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program directors).

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