Hands-On Education with the FARRMS Program

By titanoutlet February 4, 2013 16:07


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Hands-On Education

Thirteen years ago, International Certification Services, Inc. (ICS) and its organic certification program Farm Verified Organic saw the need for a separate organization to address specific educational needs of organic producers and processors, and to promote sustainable rural development in the Medina, ND community and beyond.   As a result, FARRMS (Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resource Management) was started, and it is still alive and well today.    FARRMS first big accomplishment was the construction of a new office building in Medina, a rural town in the south central part of the state.  This town has 310 people, two cafes, a gas station, post office, bank, public school, and a small grocery store.   Various organizations from around North Dakota have already met in this facility, generating income for FARRMS as well as for Medina businesses.

The mission of FARRMS is to further the sustainability of thriving farms and rural communities, and they recognize that education is the first step towards creating the next generation of organic farmers; consequently, it is a main focus of the organization.  FARRMS employs a multifaceted approach to developing sustainability on farms and in communities by providing both classroom learning and an internship program which offers hands-on training for those who don’t have a farm of their own and want to learn the trade.  Participants that qualify for the program will live and work full time on a host farm for a growing season and will receive ongoing instruction by learning in-depth skills unique to the host farmer’s operation.  Along with classroom education, farm tours and discussion circles will broaden the experience and expose student interns to the wide variety of knowledge and expertise that exists in farming communities.  The goal of the internship program is to prepare beginning farmers and ranchers by teaching them the basic skills and concepts of operating a successful farm.

Organic Farm 2012

Organic Farm 2012 (Photo credit: UGA College of Ag)

The 15 interns that FARRMS hopes to attract and place by May 15th must be 18 or older in order to meet labor law requirements; and must have a driver’s license and clean driving record.  Their room and board, tuition and stipends will be determined based on individual host farms. A journal recording what the interns do is required, and it is turned in at the end of the season which ends anywhere from August to November.

Brian McGinness and Paul Brown are ND farmers who plan on having interns this year.  They both site the advantages of this program for both the farmer and intern:

  • You will get someone excited about farming to work for you
  • Interns will be able to try this business before investing in property and equipment
  • It provides the chance to share expertise with others, which helps pass  this knowledge to the next generation
  • It offers opportunities for better learning by offering hands-on experience

McGinness and his wife both worked on several different farms (Brian did an apprenticeship in California) before starting their own operation in North Dakota.

If you’re a farmer or someone who’s interested in finding out what this profession is like, visit www.farrms.org for more information.  Applications for both the intern and host farm can also be found on this website.  What a great way to perpetuate agriculture!


Terry Olson – Titan Outlet Store Team



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By titanoutlet February 4, 2013 16:07
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