Aspiring urban farmers gain practical skills with OSU program

three urban farmers talk while harvesting vegetables
David Renn, Teresa Gooden and Willow Aevery enrolled in Extension's training for new urban farmers. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

66 students have completed the Portland training since 2011

Some urbanites are choosing farming over office jobs, but not all of them have agricultural backgrounds. To educate them, the OSU Extension Service, in partnership with Multnomah County, trains these aspiring farmers with its seven-month Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship program in Portland.

Through classes, hands-on training, field trips, online learning, stints at farmers markets and apprenticeships, students learn to produce vegetables, fruits, grains and cut flowers using sustainable and organic methods. They also learn to design landscapes and create a business and marketing plan for a farm. The curriculum is based on Extension's "Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management" workshop series.

Nearly 30 of the 66 graduates so far have continued in the field of agriculture. Alumni have started small-scale operations, contracted with OSU for small horticulture projects, landed a job at an organic farm, started a nonprofit farm at a high school, interned on farms and operated a small farm for restaurant sales.

Source: Weston Miller, horticulturist with the OSU Extension Service.

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