The Division of Agriculture’s Center for Arkansas Farms and Food (CAFF) offers two programs to prepare new and aspiring farmers for success in local food systems.
The first Farm School begins in January 2021. The second year of farm apprenticeships will begin in the spring. Registration for both programs opens Sept. 1.
The programs focus on small and mid-sized farms, specialty crop production and local markets in northwest Arkansas, said Heather Friedrich, program manager in the division’s department of horticulture. Both programs are open to anyone from any area of Arkansas. “We have connections with farmers in many areas of the state,” she said.
“Our goal is to increase the number of farmers and farms in Arkansas, improve farm viability and support our local food systems,” Friedrich said.
CAFF uses division research and outreach to support local food entrepreneurs and increases small farm viability. It is a center of the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and envisions a vibrant and diverse farm and food economy statewide, Friedrich said. Division of Agriculture faculty and staff manage CAFF programs in partnership with Northwest Arkansas Food Systems.
“Our goal is also to get local foods on local plates,” Friedrich said. “That’s good for farmers, and it’s good for consumers.”
Friedrich said CAFF addresses the need for a new generation of farmers to feed the state’s growing population. “The average farmer in Arkansas is age 57,” she said. “New farmers entering the field face significant obstacles, including a steep learning curve and access to land.
“CAFF’s goal is to support and expand the Arkansas food and farm economy,” Friedrich said. “These educational and mentoring programs will develop the next generation of Arkansas farmers and help them succeed.” Learn more or apply here.
Information and registration
To learn more about the Center for Arkansas Farms and Food, visit the CAFF website: https://caff.uark.edu. Registration for the programs will be open Sept. 1 through Oct. 30.