Rowan County once again hosts NC Farm School
By Amy-Lynn Albertson
Rowan County Cooperative Extension
Rowan County will once again host N.C. Farm School in 2021. N.C. Farm School is a comprehensive business planning course for farm entrepreneurs. The school rotates throughout the state to different counties each year. The last time Rowan County hosted was in 2015 and 2016. Some of the famous Rowan County Farms who graduated from N.C. Farm School are Two Pigs Farm, Hopeful Acres, Tranquility Farms, Third Creek Cottage Gardens, and Bizzy Bee Farms, to name a few. Not everyone who goes through farm school decides to become a commercial farmer. Often our students realize that their dream is to be a homestead farmer and decide to keep their day jobs and invest more in subsistence farming. N.C. Farm School helps you take your farm dreams and put them on paper. We will walk you through a comprehensive business planning process. In 2021, our class will meet in person as long as the governor’s guidelines allow it. We will also have the ability to provide an online option for those who do not want to come in person. Business classes meet every other Tuesday evening beginning Feb. 2, and once a month, we will have an all-day hands-on farm field day event at different farm enterprises.
Fubar Farm went through N.C. Farm School in Pitt County in 2019. Husband-and-wife team Joseph and Sara Kidd represent a new generation of young farmers not from a farming tradition. A teenaged Sara explored some agriculture classes in high school, which led her to pursue environmental studies in college. Meanwhile, Joe grew up in suburban California and then joined the military after high school. In his mid-20s, he retired early from the military and received equine-assisted therapy at Camp Lejeune. Through those experiences, the young couple yearned for a peaceful homesteading lifestyle, which eventually led them to consider farming.
“Over the years, we began to see how farming could impact the lives of other veterans and give them a new sense of purpose after getting out of the military. So when we were finally ready to start farming, our mission had grown much bigger than just providing for ourselves, but we still needed some help with all the technical bits and pieces, and that’s where Farm School came into the picture at just the right time,” revealed Sara.
The husband-and-wife team attended a Farmer Veteran Coalition meeting in Raleigh where they met Derek Washburn, an N.C. Farm School associate, and learned about N.C. Farm School.
“When we first started farm school, we were planning on having a greenhouse and doing a lot more herb and leafy greens production right away along with our livestock,” explained Sara. “One of the things we learned was budgeting and planning for new enterprises without ‘betting the farm’ and how it is wise to take things one step at a time.”
N.C. Farm School’s business approach helped the Kidds prioritize various aspects of their farm vision. “(N.C. Farm School) was able to help us lay the framework for a solid foundation, getting our farm started on the right foot so that we will be knowledgeable, secure, and able to help other veterans one day.”
As they plan out their livestock system and mark their herb production beginnings, the Kidds stay on course with their farm vision. “We have about 20 acres of woods and 12 acres of fenced pastures. We will be keeping the wooded areas as natural as possible while utilizing some of it for our pork production and recreational activities like trail riding with the horses and walking paths,” revealed Sara. “We are planning on hosting classes and weekend workshops for military veterans and their families on various farming topics,” outlined Sara. “We will also be taking on an apprentice or two in a few years as part of our goal to help veterans get into agriculture and sustainable farming.”
In the meantime, the Kidds have already achieved their peaceful homestead. If you would like to learn more about N.C. Farm School, contact the Rowan County Extension Center at 704-216-8970 or ncfarmschool.com .
Amy-Lynn Albertson is the director of the Rowan County Cooperative Extension.