Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings Now Enrolling in the Metro East!
For the first time, St. Clair County will be the site of the 2016-17 class of Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings (SIFB), a farmer-taught, community based program for people seeking to create a sustainable small farm business.
The 12-month program includes 48 hours of winter seminars where experienced farmers and farm advisors share their expertise with students as they are writing their business plan and building their skills. A six-month mentorship then pairs students with an experienced farmer while students develop specific skills pertaining to their enterprise – whether it’s hogs, hay or honey. Graduates also receive a 12-month membership in the Southern Illinois Farming Alliance, where they will have opportunities for on-farm field days and workshops.
Farm Beginnings is built on a model pioneered more than 20 years ago by the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota and is now offered in 11 regions of the United States, including in three regions in Illinois. Nationally, the programs train hundreds of farmers every year.
“We wanted to bring the opportunities of Farm Beginnings to the Metro East, which is in the northernmost area of our service territory,” said SIFB Coordinator Kathleen Logan Smith. “Entrepreneurial farming is attracting people from all backgrounds and this program helps people create viable farms.”
The 2016 Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings classes will meet in Millstadt and Belleville, at classroom and farm locations. Interested people from the Metro East, surrounding communities, and Southern Illinois are encouraged to apply at Food Works’ website: http://www.fwsoil.org/farm-beginnings.html or call (618) 370-3287. Seminars begin in October and meet until February. Students may enroll through Oct. 12th, 2016.