The Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers, a three-day workshop for anyone wanting to start a fresh market vegetable farm, will be offered January 18-20, 2013 on the UW-Madison campus.
The program serves beginning farmers who want to grow and market fresh produce. “Our primary focus is on advice, perspectives and tools that will help students make smart business decisions about production, marketing, pricing, capitalization and labor,” says John Hendrickson, the school’s coordinator.
Demand for fresh, local food, including fresh market produce, is on the rise in Wisconsin and elsewhere. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, local food sales nationally were estimated at $7 billion in 2011. Increasingly, stores, restaurants, hospitals and schools seek produce from local farms.
While the increasing demand for local food creates opportunities for aspiring growers, it does not ensure a successful business. “One of the first lessons is that it takes more than desire and perceived customer demand to make an enterprise succeed,” says Hendrickson.
The program emphasizes organic production methods and direct marketing. Participants will learn about fertility management, greenhouse use, season extension, pest management, equipment needs, planning and budgeting. The program’s instructors include both experienced growers and UW faculty and staff.
“Growers do the majority of the teaching,” says Hendrickson. “They provide a wealth of practical knowledge and insight into what it takes to operate a farm business.
The School for Beginning Market Growers is sponsored by the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Registration for the program costs $325. Enrollment is limited, so early sign-ups are advised. For more information, contact John Hendrickson at (608) 265-3704 or email@example.com, or visit the CIAS web site: www.cias.wisc.edu.