The Small Farm Dream Courses

The Small Farm Dream Course

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.

Alumni of the Course, Holly and
James Hammond of Whisper Hill
Farm in Culpeper County
Photo by Rose Jenkins

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.

What to Expect:

  • Creative exercises, homework, research and class discussions that will help you assess your skills and resources
  • Interviews with local farm business owners that will assist you in deciding how to carry your dream forward
  • The opportunity to connect with others interested in starting new agricultural enterprises in our region

Course Sessions:

Session I: Expressing Farm Vision and Evaluating Goals
Session II: Researching the Landscape and Interviewing Current Farm Innovators
Session III: Assessing Resources and Risk
Session IV: Decision-Making and Identification of Next Steps

Upcoming Courses:

Fauquier Class -- November 2014
Registration Closed.

Dates:   Tuesdays - November 4, 11, 18 and December 2
Time:     6:30 - 8:30pm
Where:  Tri County Feeds, Marshall, VA
Cost:     $160 for registration and workbook


Charlottesville Class -- January 2014
Registration Now Open

Dates:   Wednesdays - January 14, 21, 28 and February 4
Time:     6:30 - 8:30pm
Where:  Piedmont Virginia Community College
Cost:     $160 for registration and workbook


If you are interested in learning more about the course, please contact our Agriculture and Rural Economy Program Manager, Don Loock, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 540-347-2334.


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