Agricultural Entrepreneur Course
Twenty years ago, Russell County was typically Appalachian with heavy dependence on mining and farming, including tobacco and timber. Tobacco continues to provide the highest rates of return to farmers, but long-term trends in domestic consumption and overseas production pose real challenges. Russell County’s timber industry is characterized by declining overall quality of timber resources, unsustainable harvesting of high-quality hardwoods, and limited local opportunities for creating added value.
Russell County Farmers have come to rely too much on the tobacco industry to provide farm income. Many farmers no longer understand how to sustain the economic viability of farm operations while enhancing environmental quality and the natural resource base. There is a need to provide a modified curriculum of entrepreneurship skills to farmers to help them develop the marketing skills needed to operate a sustainable agricultural business.
With their Producer Grant , The Russell County Farmers Association, in partnership with several other organizations, agencies, and businesses, will be developing an Agricultural Entrepreneur Course. This course will provide hands-on workshops to help farmers develop the necessary skills to build sustainable agricultural farm operations, develop and maintain alternative crops, and open up new avenues to market products. Some of the workshops may cover topics such as “How to Package & Sell Beef”, “Maximize Sales at the Farmers Market”, “Establishing a Pick Your Own Business”, “Alternative Crops for Cash”, etc.
By hosting these workshops, the Farmers Market Association of Russell County will continue to develop its base of farmers and grow the skills necessary to expand its Farmers Market and establish a community supported agriculture program. Through the partnerships formed with New Beginnings, Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, and the Russell County Chamber of Commerce, new avenues of sales will be developed such as a farm web site, agritourism businesses, and marketing to wholesalers and restaurants.