Skill Training for Beginning Farmers
Small-scale beginning farmers gain the skills and confidence essential to the successful production and marketing of sustainably raised food products through a series of hands-on training workshops. Designed specifically to meet the educational needs of women farmers, the workshops provide the knowledge needed to overcome the technological, as well as personal, barriers that women farmers encounter as they emerge into higher levels of farm management.
Ten workshops develop skills necessary for marketing value-added products; small engine maintenance; purchasing and maintaining farm equipment; market garden production; small frame construction; fence construction; low-stress animal management; and financial management.
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 ten educational needs that create barriers to successful marketing and management, in a focus group facilitated by the Kansas Rural Center. Teresa Oliver, coordinator of the Sundog Farmstead Alliance, collaborated with the Kansas Rural Center to organize ten 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; 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 were open to the public, but limited to 20 participants. A resource manual and directory will be published at the close of the project.
Beginning farmers gain critical skills involved in the production and marketing of sustainably grown food products through ten hands-on workshops. The targeted audience is female farmers who too often lack access to relevant training and information.
The following workshops have been completed.
Rhonda Janke from Kansas State University taught a soil quality workshop for 21 farmers. 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 for 20 farmers. Elaine Mohr, a gardener and carpenter, was the instructor.
An introduction to small engine maintenance focused on chain saws, lawn mowers, and garden tillers was presented to 19 farmers. 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 was presented to 16 farmers. 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 was taught by Lynn Byczynski, author of ?The Flower Farmer?, to 16 farmers.
Three concrete and framing workshops presented by Lynn Wilson, a carpenter, was presented to 35 farmers.
An introduction to fencing was presented by Lynn Wilson to 7 farmers.
An introduction on management to promote livestock wellness was presented by Ann Wells, a veterinarian with ATTRA, to 10 farmers.
Two business planning workshops that included marketing and financial management facilitated by Claire Homitzky, a certified NxLeveL trainer, was presented to 14 farmers.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
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 problem solve. “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.
Several participants said that after the concrete workshop they now for the first time know and feel confident to mix and pour concrete for projects on their farms.
After the fencing workshop, one woman said she now feels confident she can take down a fence and move it to a new spot.
After the business planning workshops, one woman said now she can work on a cash flow plan and another expressed she has the management tools to decide whether to accept or decline a new business enterprise opportunity.
Impacts on how skills were translated into practical actions on the farm or ranch identified through written surveys and follow-up interviews:
Several participants went home and planted new varieties of flowers.
Two women went home to finish the greenhouse they had started three years ago.
Several participants went home and took soil samples for the first time.
Participants went home to build their first cold frame.
One woman went home to build a trail class bridge for her horses- the first time she took on a construction project by herself. Her children and husband became so curious they eventually joined in helping her finish the project.
?I will now teach my daughters how to work with wood tools,? said one participant.
One participant went home and did her own maintenance on her tiller for the first time.
One participant enrolled in college for the first time as a direct result of this project. She was challenged to get out of her comfort zone, think for herself, and gain new computer skills.
One woman following the concrete workshop poured her own cement walkway. Another woman put in cement door pads. A third woman poured a cement floor in her milk house.
Sundog Farmstead Alliance
8604 W. 189th Street
Burlingame, KS 66413
Office Phone: 7856542313