Skill Training for Beginning Farmers
Small-scale beginning farmers will gain confidence and skills essential to the successful production and marketing of sustainably raised food products in a series of hands-on training workshops. Designed specifically to meet the educational needs of women farmers, the workshops will provide the basic knowledge and experience needed to overcome the technological, as well as social and cultural, barriers that women farmers encounter as they emerge into higher levels of farm management.
The Sundog Farmstead Alliance, a cluster of women farmers in rural Osage County in eastern Kansas, identified nine educational needs that create barriers to successful marketing and management, in a focus group facilitated by the Kansas Rural Center. Teresa Oliver, president of the Sundog Farmstead Alliance, will collaborate with the Kansas Rural Center and Kansas State University Extension to organize 10 workshops in which the following skills are taught and then practiced by participants: business and market planning; marketing value-added products; small engine repair and maintenance; purchasing and maintaining farm equipment; market garden production; small frame construction of a wooden building or a root cellar; crop/forage nutrient management and soil quality; fence selection and construction; animal wellness and low-stress animal management; and financial accounting, record keeping and enterprise analysis. All workshops will be open to the public, but limited to 20 participants. A resource manual and directory will be published at the close of the project.
The Sundog Cluster prioritized and scheduled the first year’s workshops. The following have been thus far completed:
Rhonda Janke from Kansas State University taught a soil quality workshop. The workshop included learning how to use a county soil survey to find your farm, identify the soil types on your farm and their basic characteristics, experiencing taking soil samples, interpreting the soil test results, and learning about cover crop identification and management for horticultural crops.
A basic wooden construction workshop included basic safety principles and a hands-on construction of two garden cold frames. Elaine Mohr, a gardener and carpenter, was the instructor.
An introduction to small engine maintenance focused on chain saws, lawn mowers, and garden tillers. Patti Deranek, an instructor with the Glacial Hills RC&D, taught the workshop.
An introduction to greenhouse management included cutting and transplanting garden plants and flowers. The instructor was Marilyn Jones, a farmer and organizer of a local farmers= market.
An introduction to market flower production included production and harvesting methods. Lynn Byczynski, author of AThe Flower Farmer@, was the instructor.
Impacts in individual self-efficacy as identified through written evaluations and follow-up interviews:
Several participants stated they feel empowered with a stronger belief in their capability to do something new. One participant said she doesn’t any longer feel constrained by waiting until her husband helps her before she works with wood power tools.
One participant in an exit interview said she now understands there can be various ways to solve problems. ”I have more courage to think for myself.”
Several participants said they came to understand that personal fears set their own boundaries. Removing that fear frees them up to new potentials.
Sundog Farmstead Alliance
8604 W. 189th Street
Burlingame, KS 66413
Office Phone: 7856542313