Aug 30, 2023
MSU Organic Farmer Training Program registration opens
Michigan State University (MSU) is accepting applications for the 2024 Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP).
The registration deadline is Feb. 21 for the MSU Department of Horticulture’s program.
The OFTP brings together farmworkers, aspiring farmers, homesteaders, educational garden leaders and new farmers already working the land to share their farm goals and chart a course toward that vision, according to a news release.
The curriculum of the program during a farm season consists of farm tours throughout Michigan, guest speakers, hands-on activities, assignments and group discussions. The activities are designed to contribute to each new farmers’ unique vision for their farm, according to the release. By the end of the program, each participant will possess a complete farm business plan that has been influenced from the cohort and farm activities and strengthened with feedback from the instructor and peers, according to the release. The final classes are a celebration, with each participant sharing a presentation about their farm business plans with lots of time for questions.
In addition to the farm business plan, other topics include starting or improving their farm business, finding land, improving a grower’s current farm business, beginning new practices on an intergenerational family farm and accessing USDA programs, according to the release.
In addition to these successes, each OFTP participant has learned about soils, marketing, farm ecology, season extension, irrigation, food safety, tractors and equipment and sustainable management of weeds, pests and diseases. They have visited 20-plus farms in Michigan, including urban educational farms, large vegetable farms, rotationally-grazed livestock operations, orchards, nurseries, schoolyard gardens and incubator farms. Each has developed a network of farmers and allies in working toward their farm goals. They will have met Michigan State University Extension educators, lenders, food safety experts and have new understanding of state and federal programs to support their farm.
Past OFTP program participants say the classes provided them with tools and resources and refueled their passions for farming. The classes also supported them with others who believe in their visions, according to the release.
Scholarship deadline is Nov. 15. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the cohort is full.
The 2023 program takes place on Mondays through Nov. 4. Program fees for 2024 are $3,900 plus the cost of books and materials, which average $200.
Need and merit-based scholarships are available, including the Greenstone Cultivate Growth Grant, Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, National Young Farmers Coalition Young Farmer Grants, Rodale BIPOC Farmer Mini-Grants, the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) and the CCOF Future Organic Farmer Grant.
Program participants do not receive college credit for completing the OFTP. However, upon completion of the program, they will receive a certificate from the MSU Student Organic Farm, Department of Horticulture, and Center for Regional Food System. Technically, program participants are not enrolled at MSU. However, participants can access MSU’s libraries, campus dining halls, fitness facilities and computer labs.
Read more about the program here.