I’ve had this dream of starting an urban farm in Dallas for a few years, but life keeps getting in the way. A full time job, husband, two kids, house, dog, 3 cats, and assorted family and friends keep me busy. So I haven’t broken ground. Yet.
Last night, I began a journey to change that.
For $200, I signed up for a beginning farmer’s course from Cornell University’s Northeast Beginning Farmers Program. It’s part of an online interactive educational program designed to help you plan, start, and manage your farm, whether you want to raise veggies, goats, mushrooms — or in my case, herbs.
Experienced instructors and farmers teach the classes, which are delivered through an online web conferencing system that allows you to see course materials, ask questions, and chat with other aspiring farmers. And although the program is designed primarily for farming in the northeastern US, our group of 29 hails from far-flung places like New Hampshire, Texas, Ohio, and San Diego. We also have a team collaboration site where the leaders post class materials and we can discuss farm dreams with our classmates.
I registered for BF102: Markets and Profits — Exploring the Feasibility of Your Farming Ideas. Our first session happened last night; we talked about defining the vision, mission, and goals for our farms. We had a few technical difficulties, and I already understand business planning concepts, but it was a solid first step toward my urban herb farm.
You can still register for my class — there are 5 weeks left where we’ll talk more about our farm goals, marketing, and financial planning. Or you can sign up for one of their other courses and get up to speed on farming machinery and equipment, organic certification, and marketing. Want to start a vegetable farm? Sign up for BF 121. Berry farm? BF 122. Pastured chicken operation? BF 130.
I’m fortunate to be able to research and write about my farm and food interests on this blog, but I crave more, and I’m hoping this online class will give me the kickstart I need. Stay tuned!
Image Credit: tcd123usa via Flickr/CC