About the Program
The goal of the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program is to help new and beginning farmers be successful, productive and innovative members of their agricultural communities. The program will provide them with the tools, knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.
Objective One: Teach fundamentals of farm business management but also provide exposure to advanced topics. Not only will this program teach fundamental farm management lessons (e.g. producing to maximize profit, not production; sound record-keeping) but it will also impart and advance cutting edge ideas and approaches (e.g. geographic indications of origin, values-based food value chains, and new wave direct marketing approaches like community supported agriculture projects). The program will embrace beginning farmers all along the continuum from conventional to organic production methods, and seek to create an appreciation of one for the other.
Objective Two: Increase participant comfort level with state and federal government agencies and increase participation in their programs. The program will address a broad range of topics that all impinge upon beginning farmer success. Appropriate state and federal agencies will develop and deliver presentations and provide one-on-one mentoring with participants on a case-by-case basis. Familiarity with key people in these agencies will help to create stronger relationships with state and federal agencies, facilitate the development of peer-to-peer learning networks, and increase the participation rate in state and federal grant, loan, and technical assistance programs.
Objective Three: Beginning farmers will better “Know Thyself”. Participants will be guided through a self-discovery process resulting in a clearer understanding of their own life goals, desirable balance between personal and professional aspirations, and how these aspirations materialize in day-to-day operation of their business.
Objective Four: Development of thoughtful business plans. Participants will benefit from completion of a small business entrepreneurship course where they will be exposed to a range of topics and develop a personalized business plan. Participants will learn about ways to effectively integrate Internet-based business strategies and will be encouraged to take stock of and take measures to enhance their web presence.
Objective Five: Provide experiential learning through real-world application. This program will provide the opportunity for participants to make site visits to a number of successful and varied farm businesses where they will be able to experience first-hand the application of principles taught elsewhere in the program.
Objective Six: Provide contact with willing and able mentors. Participants will be provided the opportunity to link with a mentor from a pool of successful farm business operators.
Objective Seven: Provide immersion experience for some participants. For those participants seeking an immersive internship experience, the program will assist with making connections with and directly support regional program (e.g. Low Country Local First) coordinators.
Five workshops will relate to farm and risk management, (i.e., Cost Concepts in Economics, Enterprise Budgeting, The Balance Sheet and Analysis, Managing Risk and Uncertainty, etc.).
2. Business Training
An eight-week course, Food and Farming Entrepreneurial Training, will offer the tools and resources to create and implement a plan for growth. In addition to the top-notch knowledge provided by expert speakers and course content, participants work shoulder-to-shoulder with other local food/farming entrepreneurs, creating a valuable peer network.
3. Farm Tours/Visits
This program will provide the opportunity for participants to make site visits to a number of successful and varied farm businesses where they will be able to experience first-hand the application of principles taught elsewhere in the program.
4. Internship Opportunity
For those participants seeking an immersive internship experience, the program will assist with making connections along with providing support by regional program (e.g. Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Low Country Local First) coordinators.