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 landowners to increase farmland accessibility, The 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" courses bridge the gap between ideas and action.
* Information and registration is now available for our 2014 course in Fauquier County and 2015 course in Charlottesville.