West Virginia Beginning Farmer Training Program

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $131,983.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: West Virginia University
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
State Coordinator:
Dr. Doolarie Singh-Knights, Ph.D.
West Virginia University

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, food product quality/safety, high tunnels or hoop houses
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, financial management, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    Statewide local food demand is increasing, but WV faces an aging population of farmers, with related issues of farmer retirement, next-generation ownership/management transition, and new entry into farming. This project was driven by a 2014-2017 statewide ‘sustainable agriculture needs assessment’ process, and more recent discussions in 2018-2019 with ASPs and farmers, to better understand priority training areas, challenges faced, assistance needed and ideas for future programs, to better serve nascent and beginning farmers (hereafter called BF) in WV. Results of the 2014-2017 survey, together with related state census statistics, have confirmed that higher demand for local foods and related products has created new opportunities for WV producers, but points to knowledge and experience gaps that continue to limit entry and business success for agribusinesses in WV. 

    This proposal creates a unique partnership of the state’s agricultural service providers to leverage resources, streamline program offerings, and build upon collective best-practice to meet the business planning and risk management needs of BFs, while reducing programmatic overlap. This three-year project will develop a Train-the-Trainer (TTT) program for ten (10) ASPs and Farm Mentors/Farmer Leaders (hereafter referred to collectively as ASPs) in WV to successfully work with BF, to help them start or expand operations, and improve the sustainability of their practices, and to support these farmers in their early years of operation through mentoring, community partnerships and networking opportunities. The TTT program will develop a comprehensive whole-farm planning and risk management curriculum designed as a ‘one-stop-shop’ of resources to help offer a more holistic and efficient training opportunity to overcome the unique challenges for this targeted group. At the end of the project, 10 ASPs will gain practical knowledge and skills needed to design and provide on-farm mentorship and BF training opportunities for at least 30 new beginning farmers. 

    Performance targets from proposal:

    At the end of the project, 10 ASPs will gain practical knowledge and skills needed to design and provide on-farm mentorship and BF training opportunities for their clientele. Six (6) ASPs will use this information to design and deliver on-farm mentoring, technical training and coaching to five (5) beginning farmers each (small scale crop, livestock, and value-added and specialty producers with profit motives) in their region. The other 4 trained ASPs will assist the 4 primary ASPs to develop their programs.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.