Seed Farm Apprentice Graduates are Ready for Next Year with Farm Plans in Hand
Seed Farm Apprentices graduated from the Penn State’s Vegetable Business Planner with complete farm plans this winter and are busy planning for farm start-up in 2014.
Farming is a complicated career. Experts say successful farmers have to be highly skilled in sixteen areas from business, accounting and marketing, to horticulture, and mechanics. During the season apprentices honed their practical skills through hours in the field, on the tractor and at the market. Then it was time for the books! “This winter we sat down with apprentices to take them through critical business and planning aspects of farming,” explained Penn State Extension instructor Tianna DuPont. Visiting instructors from Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit and Phil Baker insurance helped them through the process of thinking about their financing options and how to manage risk. Students discussed the potential markets in the area and analyzed how to zero in on their ideal customer. “Classes are ripe with discussion. Each week participants present a small part of their farm plan and get input from their peers to improve it,” says DuPont.
The Vegetable Business Planner Class was the culminating step for the year, bringing together knowledge hard earned throughout the season as apprentices managed their crop projects, practiced their skills on the farm, learned to run equipment and visited new farms in the area. But boy is it great to see it all in one place!
“I am proud to have produced this farm plan which is entirely my own, and I am very excited to implement it next year. When I first started farming I had no idea I would be planning my own farm after only three years, and I want to thank everyone at the Seed Farm for completely exceeding my expectations with the program and myself.” Tyler McCullough
“Before the 2013 season began, I completed an assessment of my competence in areas related to small-scale vegetable production. I was surprised at how little I knew, despite four years of previous farming experience. Having completed the season, I feel immense gratitude, as well as pride, at all I have experienced and retained. I am now proficient in tractor operation, irrigation management, production management, greenhouse propagation, market management, and financial planning. By working in an environment where education and hands-on experience are the priority, I have gathered countless insights and skills that will continue to influence my farm practice.” Emma Cunnif