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Invest in Your Farm Education this Winter

Evaluation Shows Online Courses Inspire Action.

By Erica Frenay

Online courses can be taken from the comfort of your own home or barn!

Too busy to travel to a workshop or conference?  Have you ever thought of taking an online course to advance your farming education?  Whether you are a new, aspiring or experienced farmer, the Northeast Beginning Farmers Project offers interactive 6-week courses that connect you to the information and people you need to start or diversify your farm.  The courses consist of weekly webinars with presentations by experienced educators and farmers and allow for readings and discussion on your own time.  The cost is $200 per farm to attend.

Winter 2014 Course Catalogue

The following online courses are starting soon! Tips for choosing the best course for you are available at http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses

  • Organize Your Farm Business Records
    with Financial Record-Keeping, BF 104
    Jan 13 – Feb 17, 2014
  • Plan for Profit, Reduce Stress
    with Holistic Financial Planning, BF 203
    Jan. 14 – Feb. 18, 2014
  • Understand Organic Requirements
    with Organic Certification, BF 106
    Feb. 4 – Mar 4, 2014
  • Get Introduced to Marketing & Feasibility
    with entry-level course Markets & Profits, BF 102
    Jan. 16 – Feb 20, 2014
  • Grow Vegetables
    with Vegetable Production, part II, BF 121
    Feb. 26 – Apr 2, 2014
  • Learn About Taxes, Regulations, and More
    with Taking Care of Business, BF 103
    March 10 – Apr 14, 2014

Evaluation polls from the 2012-2013 season show that students that complete courses are inspired to take action!  75 of students that completed last season’s online courses intend to further develop their business plans; 51 will invest in farm infrastructure; 37 will expand or improve their marketing; and 99 of them will improve their farm financial management or take other measures to improve farm profitability.

Students that have taken the classes say:

“As a city dweller looking to move to a farm, all the information was very eye opening. I can plan properly now that I have concrete information. I have a clearer idea of what is involved and I am still excited to try.”

“The most valuable thing about this course was that it made me hash out and put on paper each section of my business plan. It is so easy to put business plan writing on the back burner, and this course made it move to the top of my to-do list and allowed me to get all my ideas and financials into one organized document.”

“While there is no by the numbers guide to farming, this course has provided me what I think of as mental infrastructure to organize and move forward, access to great resources both online and human. In addition, the discussion forums allows me to connect with so many enthusiastic people who share a common thread to make their small (or not so small) farm a reality.”

See http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses for more details.

Erica Frenay is Beginning Farmer Project Co-Coordinator and can be reached at 607-255-9911 or ejf5@cornell.edu.

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