Feb. 10, 2023
Center for Arkansas Farm and Food back in action with public events set in March
By John Lovett
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
- 2023 Farm School class and Apprenticeships began session in February
- Small-scale farming education webinars open to the public
- Educational and networking events set March 2, 9 and 12
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Center for Arkansas Farms and Food has several educational and networking events planned for March following the kickoff of its 2023 Farm School and Apprenticeship programs.
The Center for Arkansas Farms and Food supports local food entrepreneurs and increases small farm viability through experiential learning. It is part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Beginning Farmer classes are back in session each Tuesday and Thursday evening through the end of February. The classes are available online to the public for $10 each. They last about two hours. Recordings of the classes are available for those who register at BeginningFarmer.org.
The center has also scheduled Growers School sessions for farmers of all experience levels. These will address some perennially challenging subjects, including farm taxes, equipment maintenance and farm labor.
Education and networking in March
- On March 2, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., the center will offer a free online class to the public on farm taxes in partnership with the University of Arkansas School of Law. The presentation will be given online via Zoom. Speakers include Ashley Appel, owner of Appel Farms in Springdale, and Poppy Davis with the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Appel will discuss recordkeeping and accounting tips to make filing taxes easier, and Davis will cover common deductions in a farm context, Schedule F and 1040 filing requirements, and hobby loss rules in cultural context.
To register for the farm taxes workshop, please visit the center’s events page at https://farmandfoodsystem.uada.edu/events and scroll down to March 2.
The Center for Arkansas Farms and Food began Growers School sessions in 2022 in partnership with the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service in Washington and Benton counties. The series of workshops is intended to support established farms.
- A Farm Opportunities Mixer will be held on March 9 to provide farms that are looking for seasonal employees to meet those that are looking for on-farm experience. Details will be released soon.
“One of the big constraints in a farm’s operations and expansion is labor. We have some farmers lined up to talk about their approaches to managing labor,” Heather Friedrich, program manager for CAFF, said. “It will also be a good place for those who are looking for a summer job or to gain some on-farm experience to talk to farms that are hiring.”
- On March 12, the center will offer an in-person class on winter maintenance as part of Growers School programming. The class is $10 and will be held at 1005 Meade St. at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Registration is found at https://farmandfoodsystem.uada.edu/events.
Farm School and Apprentices
The Center for Arkansas Farms and Food also offers a more hands-on learning program known as the Farm School. There are 10 students in this year’s class.
“The 2023 class of Farm School students come from all walks of life,” Friedrich said. “For some, it is a second career after retirement and others it’s a passion that they’re ready to pursue. We have some who work in childcare and food professions and others who have a background in farming.”
There are four people in the more intensive Farm Apprenticeship program, which began in 2020. Apprentices do not require Farm School training, but the apprenticeships require a greater time commitment, Friedrich said. Both are 11-month programs.
“It is a big commitment in both programs,” Friedrich said. “Usually, Farm School students have a part-time job but for apprentices, their on-farm work is their job. The demographic that enters CAFF’s programs includes people who are either recently out of college or in the 45-plus age group. They are in a phase of life where they have more flexibility and less commitments.”
Following their classes, this year’s apprentices get field experience at Dripping Springs Garden, a United States Department of Agriculture certified organic market garden in Carroll County; the Heifer Ranch in Perryville; and the Samaritan Community Center in Rogers.
Friedrich said the online Beginning Farmer courses in January and February offer greater accessibility for those who can’t make the commitments required for the Farm School and Apprenticeship programs. Farm tours open to the public are also planned to take place this summer to provide more educational opportunities, Friedrich added.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: John Lovett
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station