Alumi of the Course, Holly and
James Hammond of Whisper Hill
Farm in Culpeper County.
Photo by Rose Jenkins
Agriculture is by far Virginia's largest industry, contributing $55 billion annually to the state's economy and providing more than 357,000 jobs. Yet Virginia ranks 11th among the states for the amount of prime agricultural land lost annually, with more than 20,000 acres going out of production each year. And no wonder: the average farmer is nearly 60 years old and has a net farm income of less than $9,000.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of beginning farmers, inspired by consumer demand for fresh, healthy, local foods in Virginia. These new farmers face significant challenges, however, when trying to establish a successful agricultural business.
To support beginning and transitional farmers considering starting an agricultural operation, and to educate owners landowners to increase farmland accessibility, Piedmont Environmental Council is offering a series of Exploring the Small Farm Dream Courses in the Piedmont.
This course is for people who are considering launching a small farm enterprise, but are not sure where to start. Designed to guide students through an initial exploratory decision-making process, "Exploring the Small Farm Dream" bridges the gap between ideas and action.