Three local orgs awarded $600,000 USDA Farm Pathways grant

Photo courtesy of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Photo courtesy of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Press release from Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy:

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Organic Growers School and WNC Farmlink receive federal funding to continue the Farm Pathways collaboration over the next three years.

Asheville, NC – The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), Organic Growers School (OGS), and WNC Farmlink have been awarded a $600,000 federal grant over three years to continue developing Farm Pathways: Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access. Farm Pathways was selected this year as one of 37 projects across the nation to receive funding from the US Dept. of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which aims to educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers.

“Farm Pathways is an innovative, multi-faceted effort to ensure that farms in our region continue to flourish and provide healthy, locally produced food for our communities,” said Kristy Urquhart, SAHC Associate Director. “Together, our organizations are providing training, farmer-to-farmer networking and farmland access to help beginning farmers in the Southern Appalachians overcome obstacles for successful agricultural enterprises.”

The Farm Pathways collaborative program facilitates educational opportunities, access to land, and ongoing networking and mentoring systems through the start-up years to increase the likelihood of success for beginning farmers. SAHC, OGS, and WNC Farmlink initially received a $100,000 BFRDP grant, which was used to develop the Farm Pathways program in 2016.

“Our initial Farm Pathways grant enabled the launch of this collaborative program, including the Beginning Farmer Incubator at SAHC’s Community Farm. We are thrilled that the BFRDP has awarded funds to make it possible for us to continue this important work,” continued Urquhart.

As part of the development of Farm Pathways, SAHC hosts a series of workshops at its Community Farm in Alexander, NC and OGS offers Farm Beginnings, a comprehensive year-long farmer training program.

“We are excited to be able to continue and build on the work we started during our development year,” said Cameron Farlow, OGS. “As a partnership we are poised to not only “fill in the gaps” but to create a new farmer-inspired, collaboratively-driven, and nationally-informed training & land access program of the broadest scope, substance, and merit. As allies we can collectively address the two biggest barriers to farming in our region: training & land access. The potential for positive collective impact is far greater than what we can individually achieve.”

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