The Foundation for Agriculture, Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS) is offering the Farm Beginnings sustainable farm business course online from late January through early April 2021. Farm Beginnings is for beginning and transitioning farmers and includes modules on goal setting, whole farm planning, business plan development, financial management, marketing practices and natural resource stewardship. Registration is $25 per student, and tuition is $500 per farm. Scholarships are available. For more information and to register, visit www.farrms.org/succeed.

Farm Beginnings is a farmer-led, community-based program rooted in sustainable farming. Students connect with experienced North Dakota growers who are implementing the sustainable practices taught throughout the course. The course includes videos, business planning tools, live online class discussions, virtual farm tours and connections to local resources such as financing, service providers and peer networks. Students will complete a sustainable business plan for their own farm enterprise by the end of the course. Farm Beginnings is a certified borrower training course for USDA Farm Service Agency, and graduates are eligible for FSA loans.

Farm Beginnings is one of the ways that FARRMS is helping to grow beginning farmers. North Dakota’s farmers are aging, with the average age at 56 in 2017 up from 55.3 in 2012. The number of farms in the state is shrinking, down 15% from 2012 to 2017, according to the USDA NASS Census of Agriculture.. At the same time, consumers are increasingly interested in shopping locally and are seeking out local food and farm products.

“I see more people wanting a connection to their local food system," said Stephanie Blumhagen, executive director of FAARMS. "For many that means a desire to start their own farms and food businesses. FARRMS offers tools for success for beginning farmers.”

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FARRMS provides educational programs and support to grow sustainable agriculture and local food systems in North Dakota. It works to enhance the sustainability of farms and ranches in their communities and currently operates from the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center in the Tuttle School in Tuttle, N.D. Learn more about Farm Beginnings and other FARRMS programs at www.farrms.org.