Helping New and Beginning Farm Businesses Succeed in Southwest Virginia

Growers Academy 2016 Picture

A 2014 study of the Roanoke Valley’s regional food system assessed the challenges and opportunities of food system stakeholders, from producer to consumer. The study, “Linking the Catawba Sustainability Center to the Local Food System,” resulted in a report that recognized these challenges and included suggestions for optimizing the impact of the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center on the regional food system. The study recommended that the Center focus on three overarching thematic areas: 1) Business Incubation and Acceleration; 2) Stakeholder Connectivity and Capacity Building; and 3) Innovation and Experimentation. The Catawba Sustainability Center has been advancing projects within these focus areas for several years and with this validation of need, will continue to improve existing and take on new initiatives.

One of the Center’s signature programs since 2012 has been the Growers’ Academy. The course is designed to help new and transitioning agricultural businesses succeed. The learning series focuses on whole farm business planning and low-input crop production and instructors include resource professionals and regional farm business owners. Last year, the Center aligned even more closely with the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition by offering the Coalition’s Whole Farm Planning curriculum as part of the Academy. From 2012 – 2014, the Growers’ Academy held classes in Roanoke, VA and traveled to Wytheville in 2015.

In partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Coalition, the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center and Montgomery County Cooperative Extension are offering the 2016 Growers’ Academy in Christiansburg, VA. Class will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6PM – 9PM, from January 19 – February 23.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to Whole Farm Planning
  • Business and Finance
  • Enterprise Budgets & Financial Services
  • Soil and Pest Management
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Crops and Crop Planning

The Farm Credit Knowledge Center is committed to sharing knowledge and resources with individuals interested in agriculture and has sponsored the program to lower the cost for individuals to attend. Registration for the program is $200.

Register Now, space is limited.


Post Contributed By: Josh Nease, Catawba Sustainability Center Manager,

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