Beginner Farmer & Rancher Project
The SR1 Community Oriented Opportunities for Learning (C.O.O.L.™) Farming project is designed to educate and train 70 beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers to plan, launch, and/or sustain independent organic farm businesses. Prior farming experience is not required! Anyone can apply and be a participant in the C.O.O.L.™ Farming project.
Our Agriculture and Science projects are open to all while placing emphasis on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities who have historically faced discrimination. Click to download SR1 C.OO.L Farming Fact Sheet
The state of Mississippi only has 29 organic farms. This ranks seventh from the lowest in the nation in organic farming. None of Mississippi’s 29 organic farms are owned by Blacks, Latinx, and Indigenous Farmers. The C.O.O.L.™ Farming project seeks to change this.
No Experience Required
The C.O.O.L.™ Farming Project is for people with zero to ten years of farming experience.
The program is designed for socially disadvantaged farmers to benefit the most.
People living in the Central Mississippi Counties of Hinds,
Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Rankin, Scott, and Smith
are eligible. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people are encouraged to apply.
Meet a great Team
Beginner Farmers and Ranchers in the program will work with
an experienced team. They will gain expertise to prepare
and launch a farm. Participants will also gain knowledge and
experience needed to sustain a farming business.
The C.O.O.L.™ Farming
project is FREE for participants. A grant from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) provides funding for the C.O.O.L.™ Farming Project.
Farmers in the project
participate at no cost to them.
The C.O.O.L.™ Farming Project is an exciting project for all
skill levels and lengths of training desired. Potential farmers can learn organic farming practices, business management,financial management, and much more!
For those desiring more
intensive training, farmers can practice their business on a half-acre of land and receive continued education.
12 researched based initial modules that provides great learning opportunities for both experience and beginner farmers.
Slots open to gain education and assistance to prepare for and launch farm businesses.
For those seeking enrichment
training - practice on a .5 acre of land for a year.
Beginner Farmer Interest Form
Are you interested in joining our C.O.O.L.™ Beginner Farmer Project? Then please fill out this form!
What is the cost of the program?The program is totally free!
Do I have to have any farming exerience?No farming experience is required! The program is for those with 0 to 10 years of experience.
I am not a Farmer of Color, can I participate?Yes! We want farming unity and so the program is open to all! Many of the lessons are geared toward farmers of color and the obstacles they face.
Am I able to join the beginner farmer program post registration?Not at this time; however, registration may open back up in the future. Be sure to subscribe to our email list to never miss updates about the program.
After the kickoff meeting, what’s the next step as a beginner farmer? Where do I go from here?As an SR1 Beginner farmer, your first steps are to complete a series of educational courses and field experiences offered by the organization. The courses will cover topics such as crop and business planning and management, finding land and resources, restoring degraded land, and more. Course schedules and registration will be posted on our website at www.sr1ag.org.
Will we need to purchase tools or equipment for farming courses?We will provide equipment and supplies necessary to complete on-farm demonstrations and farming courses hosted by SR1 and at SR1 hosting sites. SR1 will provide participants information and resources on how to acquire or purchase equipment and supplies for personal use and future applications.
What is a high tunnel and how do I go about getting a high tunnel (greenhouse)?High Tunnels (covered structures, hoop houses, etc.) are polyethylene, plastic or fabric covered hoop structures which plants can be grown efficiently, extends the growing season, improves plant quality and soil quality, and improves air quality through reduced transportation inputs. A High Tunnel System, commonly called a “hoop house,” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers, and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Learn more at the following websites: Growing Year Round with High Tunnels: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/organic/?cid=NRCSEPRD1364702%20 High Tunnel System Initiatives: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/programs/?cid=stelprdb1046250 Apply for EQIP: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=nrcseprd1342638
How do you qualify as an organic farmer that is certified?The United State Department of Agriculture offers detailed content on how your business can become organically certified. Please explore the following resources at the links below: The Road to Organic Certification https://access.willinteractive.com/the-road/the-road-to-organic-certification How to Transition Your Farm, Ranch or Business to Organic https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/transitioning-to-organic SR1 will also provide additional details about the organic certification process within our training courses.
How do you determine which product to plant and when is the best time to start planting?SR1’s Crop Planning course will provide participants information on various crop varieties, discuss seasons for growth and production, and assist participants with developing planting charts and calendars based on crops of interest. Stay tuned for more information.
What is the difference between soil and dirt?Learn the difference between soil and dirt from Dr. Staley, a soil scientist at the Soil Health Institute:
Do you have any programs involving beekeeping or raising any other insects (i.e. Mealworms, Black soldier flies, etc.)?At this moment, we do not have programs involving beekeeping and raising insects; however, please see resources and contacts below for the Central Mississippi Beekeepers Association and MS Extension Specialist focused in Apiculture (beekeeping). Central Mississippi Beekeepers Association (Website: msbeekeeping.com) Mississippi State University - Apiculture Program https://extension.msstate.edu/livestock/beekeeping/apiculture-honey-bee-health Dr. Esmaeil Amiri Asst. Extension/Research Professor Extension Topic Areas: Apiculture: Honey Bee Health Specialty Area: Pollinator Health Email: email@example.com Telephone: 662-686-3215 Dr. Jeffery W. Harris Associate Extension/Research Professor Extension Topic Areas: Beekeeping, Apiculture: Honey Bee Health Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 662-325-2085
How can I gain grant funding to launch an organic farming business and implement conservation practices (i.e., hoop houses)?Several programs are available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative — for planning and implementing conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) — for maintaining and improving existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resource concerns Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA) — for managing risk and solving natural resource issues through conservation SR1 will provide updates on additional grant/funding opportunities throughout the course of our Beginner Farmer program.
Can we access resources and Powerpoint slides from the kickoff event?Here are recordings from our Beginner Farmer kickoff meeting:
What are the available resources for female farmers?The USDA offers various resources for female farmers. Please explore these resources at the links below: Women Farmers: https://www.farmers.gov/your-business/women#other-resources Women in Agriculture https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/initiatives/women-agriculture https://www.nal.usda.gov/legacy/afsic/women-agriculture SR1 will provide additional resources throughout the course of our Beginner Farmer program.
Are there any internship opportunities for a students in Agriculture fields?SR1 is looking for great volunteers to learn and grow with us. Please contact our office at 601. 206.4544 or email us at email@example.com for more information.