Press Center

For immediate release: January 30, 2013

Sue Ellen Johnson
Director of Agriculture and Rural Economy Programs
The Piedmont Environmental CouncilThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PEC’s 6th ‘Exploring the Small Farm Dream’ Series to be Held in Culpeper
This interactive course, for anyone planning, starting or growing a farm enterprise, begins in February

Agriculture is one of Virginia's largest industries -- contributing over $55 billion annually to the state's economy and providing more than 357,000 jobs. Yet, the Commonwealth ranks 11th in the U.S. for the amount of prime agricultural land lost annually, with more than 20,000 acres going out of production each year. Also, today’s average farmer is nearly 60 years old, which causes many to question what the future holds for Virginia’s agricultural economy.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of farm entrepreneurs -- inspired by consumer demand for fresh, local foods in Virginia. These next generation and beginning farmers face significant challenges, however, when trying to establish a successful agricultural business.

To support beginning and next generation farmers who are considering starting a new agricultural venture, The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) offers its “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” course.

PEC will be hosting its 6th “Exploring the Small Farm Dream”  course at the Choice Building in downtown Culpeper (215 E Davis St). This four-session workshop series will meet every Wednesday from February 20th to March 13th; from 6:30pm-9:00pm. The registration fee is $160, plus $24 for the course workbook (a single farm can share a registration and workbook). Those interested can register by completing the online registration, or by calling PEC’s Karen Hunsberger (540-316-9973).

This course is for people who are considering launching their first small farm enterprise -- or  a new farm enterprise on an existing farm -- but are not sure where to start. Designed to guide participants through the initial decision-making process, “Exploring the Small Farm Dream" helps participants evaluate their assumptions and  bridges the gap between the “dream” and action.

Pablo Elliot, experienced vegetable grower from Prince William County, VA, and Sue Ellen Johnson, PEC’s Director of Agriculture and Rural Economy, will be the instructors.

"This course helps participants identify the resources they will need for success,” Johnson explains.. “During the four interactive sessions, the 'explorers' will determine whether the farm enterprise they have in mind is right and practical for them -- or if there is another, better way for them to contribute to the local food system, agrarian landscape, and rural lifestyle."

Participants can expect:

  • Creative exercises, homework, and class discussions to assess needed skills and resources
  • Presentations and conversations with local farm business owners
  • The opportunity to connect with others interested in starting new agricultural enterprises in our region

Read this article about Holly and James Hammond -- alums of PEC’s Small Farm Dream Course who are now running their own farm >>

For further information about PEC’s upcoming “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” course, visit>>

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