West Virginia, like many areas across the country, has experienced a resurgence of interest in Local Food. However, West Virginia has many barriers when it comes to growing the new agricultural economy.
Sprouting Farms is an innovative approach to enhancing local food systems within the rural Appalachian context. The project combines a traditional farm incubator concept with resource sharing, land access, farm business course, affordable land ownership and food production models to support new & beginning farmers, launch farm businesses, jumpstart wholesale market channels, help nurture the farming community, and encourage farm and business sustainability.
Sprouting Farms seeks to develop new and existing farm businesses and increase local food production in the New and Greenbrier River Valleys by laying the groundwork for sustainable farm businesses.
Goal 1: Increase the number of successful new and beginning farmers in the Greenbrier and New River Valleys.
Goal 2: Provide new and beginning farmers with key business education and training in order to support entrepreneurial endeavors.
Goal 3: Transition farms to a land access solution that allows farmers to build their assets, capital, and farm businesses.
Goal 4: Increase and jumpstart wholesale market channels in the Greenbrier and New River Valley region.
Goal 5: Create well-paying and fair employment opportunities.
Goal 6: Encourage planning for sustainable production.
Goal 7: Support the development of the farm community in the Greenbrier and New River Valley region by preserving its agricultural heritage and supporting farmer-to-farmer communication.
Goal 8: Create a sustainable model for replication.
Hosts public workshops for area farms and businesses and coordinates educational partners.
Provides (1) access to farm implements and tools necessary for area farmers to scale-up, (2) tools and implements for on-site farms & apprentices (3)maintenance and upkeep for tools used in the production program, (4) access to cold storage and aggregation facilities, and (5) a collective place for participants, the Production Program, and area farmers to take part in production planning and bulk purchasing.
Farm Business Course and Incubator Farm Program
Provides support to new and beginning farmers (1-10 years experience) through two main components(1) Farm apprenticeship that includes business course, business planning support and mentorship and (2) incubator program that offers access to land, continued mentorship, and project resources. This program has both season extension and field plots available.
Laying the groundwork for sustainable farm business
(1) Increases food production to generate the volume necessary to open up new and expand existing wholesale markets, and (2) provides jobs in the agricultural sector.
Sprouting Farms provides high tunnel, pasture, and in-ground acreage to lease. Individuals will be able to lease land while remaining in close contact with neighboring farmers and farming within a community setting.