An In-Depth Hybrid Series for Beginning Farmers

Are you starting a farm? Do you have plans to begin selling a food product? Join a small cohort of beginning farmers to learn from topic experts and get paired with a farm mentor for the series.

The Whole Farm Planning & Mentoring program is a 10-week series that matches 15 beginning farmers with 15 mentors and leads them through the process of planning their business. Through weekly webinars with topic experts and one-on-one meetings with mentors, participants will learn the key components of starting a business with the goal of creating a new or refined business plan.

We will begin with the important work of visioning, then walk through the nuts and bolts of forming a business, creating sound financial plans, innovative marketing strategies, regulatory considerations and funding opportunities. Participants will hear from business experts, as well as current farm and food business owners who will bring their personal experiences and real world examples to the conversation. Participants are expected to attend all webinars, complete weekly assignments, and communicate with their mentor between sessions.

We are seeking beginning farmers who have already begun production or who are committed to developing a farm business in any sector. Participants should live in one of the Appalachian counties of Ohio or West Virginia.

This series typically runs January through March. Registration window: October 16 – January 14. A full schedule can be found on the registration page.

Cost of registration

  • Regular price – $200
  • Discounted price – $150 (enter Promo Code: DISCOUNT)

Limited scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply for a scholarship, please fill out this application or email Katie Lloyd at katie@ruralaction.org.

REGISTER HERE

Mentor Spotlights

 

Tony Noble – Tony is passionate about connecting people to nature, nutrition and each other. As Farm Manager with Ohio Student Farm, he sees the farm as a complex system that provides value to so many different people (students, customers, professors, volunteers, neighbors). While he keeps the farm as a whole running toward its sustainable goals, he also seeks to provide all who interact with it, an experience of growth in knowledge and farm experience that builds upon the culture and knowledge they bring with them.

 

 

Chip Carroll – Chip Carroll has been involved in agroforestry and non-timber forest product related work for more than 20 years. He began his work with Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Program in 1998 and has since worked for Frontier Natural Products, The National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs, United Plant Savers and American Ginseng Pharm. He and his family have a small farm in Meigs county where they have been growing, ginseng, goldenseal, ramps and other woodland medicinal herbs since 1999. Chip has worked with more than 100 landowners throughout the region to help them get started on their own woodland endeavors and continues to stay involved in all things related to ginseng and ginseng growing in particular.

 

 

Heather Jobson – Heather farms in Adams county where growing elderberries is the main focus of the farm business. She presently has 3 value-added elderberry products that are sold online (www.ohioelderberry.com) and direct-to-consumer at markets. She is excited to discuss farm and business ideas, from starting your farm business to building high tunnels, installing irrigation, finding markets, diversifying farm income, preparing for change and other events that may be in your farm future.

 

 

 

Heather Williams – Heather Williams, a first-generation cattle woman and alumna of the Whole Farm Program, believes that farming can be done anywhere, and it’s essential to educate and empower people through agriculture. She acquired a 8-acre piece of land in Dayton, Ohio to create Cloverfield Farm, where she raises Miniature Hereford beef cattle, gourmet mushrooms and market produce with her family using biodiverse and sustainable methods. Heather is passionate about educating people about agriculture and sharing her journey with others.

 

 

Lauren Ketcham – Since 2013, Lauren Ketcham has been a first-generation farmer at Down the Road Farm, an 11-acre sustainably managed, specialty cut flower farm in New Lexington. Lauren handles the “computer” end of the farm, including website, email, social media, recordkeeping, and farm planning, in addition to working hands-on planting, harvesting, and designing flowers.

She has also had a nearly 20 year career in nonprofit communications and environmental advocacy, including serving as Communications Director at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association where she worked first-hand to promote beginning farmer policies and programs. Her environmental advocacy work has helped to protect Perry State Forest and neighboring farmland from coal mine development.

 

John & Margot Baker – At Homecoming Ranch, we practice multispecies adaptive grazing. Our goal is to be good stewards of the land and the livestock we are entrusted with. We currently raise heritage breeds of cattle. Primarily Scottish Highlands with some Dexter as well as various breeds of hair sheep and goats. To a lesser degree, we also raise chickens and turkey. We recognize the value of living a principle centered life. There are governing principles that provide the foundation for life, energy, and growth. We strive to live and work by the regenerative principles of agriculture that help our ranch to be healthy, productive, and enjoyable. We also strive to live and work by the principles that make our interactions with others uplifting and enjoyable. We believe the regenerative principles of agriculture can help to heal the planet. The regenerative principles of human culture can heal society.

 

Paul Tomcho – Creekside Farm is a seasonal goat dairy and creamery. We make several varieties of goat cheese and yogurt as well as a fluid milk herdshare. The farm consists of roughly 50 acres of pasture including about 15 acres of silvopasture fields. We practice rotational grazing, moving the herd daily during the milking season. We milk 30-35 goats. Additionally we recently started milking a small number of dairy sheep and hope to make sheep milk cheeses in the future. We also make hay, have a shiitake mushroom log operation, a small apple and blueberry orchard, and a produce garden. We sell at the Athens Farmers Market and area stores and restaurants. Prior to starting Creekside Farm, I had several years of agriculture experience including managing a seasonal cow dairy, working on a produce farm and hog farm.

 

Hans Kneuss – Hans is a fourth-generation farmer from Tuscarawas County, Ohio. He and his family have pursued various agricultural enterprises over the years including 5+ acres of commercial produce production and a multi-weekend fall festival. Hans has extensive experience with retailing product at farmers’ markets and on-farm, as well as wholesale sales to local restaurants and stores. Kneuss Family Farm is proud to be one of the founding members of the Tuscarawas Valley Farm Market since 2008–the first producers-only market in Tuscarawas County. Currently, the farm raises eggs, beef cattle, hay, and row crops on 120+ sustainably managed acres. Hans is passionate about growing the local food community and helping others find success in their farming endeavors.