Proving the interest in new developments like TILL Farms on Powers Boulevard is no fluke, a program from Colorado State University will debut in El Paso County on January 19. The Building Farmers and Ranchers Program seeks to help those currently in the fields and create new believers.
Talking to Ag Journal, program coordinator Becky Butterfield, a certified master gardener in north Colorado Springs, says the program is limited to 15 participants paying $325 for an eight-week course. Sessions are held at 17 N. Spruce St.
“The Building Farmers and Ranchers Program mainly helps farmers and ranchers develop a business plan,” Butterfield is quoted as saying. “We look at things like, what are the tax ramifications? What are the building and water regulations? How do you manage risk?”
All farming and ranching backgrounds are encouraged to attend, where they’ll find classes like “Strategic Business Planning,” “Basics of Food Safety” and “Marketing Principles.”
It’s hoped that educating the interested will help reverse an old farm population, where the average age is 59, according to Ag Journal. There are less farms at a time when farm-to-table dining is everywhere.
“Butterfield notes that El Paso County’s program will have a little different flavor than other parts of the state,” writes Candace Krebs. “Compared to Denver County, for example, El Paso County has larger acreages and more traditional farms. In both counties, however, much of the swelling interest has come from urban homesteaders who want to raise food for their families and their neighbors and maybe a neighborhood restaurant or local food pantry.”
Farm-driven restaurants like TILL and Alex Seidel’s Fruition are one answer to the sourcing issue, but the deepest availability is going to come from locals producing food at a professional level. Guest speakers like CSU professor Dawn Thilmany will speak to all the roles that responsibility requires.
“In addressing the future of farming, Thilmany, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, honed in on ‘the changed risk exposure agriculture is facing,’ as farmers confront high production costs and rapidly changing macro-economic factors,” writes Ag Journal. “In addition, she said, they must wear many hats, which include being marketers, public relations professionals and even public educators as well as food producers.”
If interested in the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.