Clemson graduates latest class of ‘new farmers’

It takes more than a green thumb to become a new farmer. In the modern era, marketing skills, bookkeeping and an entrepreneurial spirit are as important as understanding soil properties and irrigation.

Thanks to the S.C. New and Beginning Farmer program, the Class of 2013 has a game plan for the office as well as the field.

S.C. New and Beginning Farmer is a statewide multi-agency partnership supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant No. 2010-03113).

The program is led by Clemson University’s R. David Lamie, an associate professor and Extension specialist at the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development at the Sandhill Research and Education Center.

Clemson is assisted by primary partners Lowcountry Local First and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. The partnership also includes the S.C. Department of Agriculture, S.C. Farm Bureau, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, and S.C. Young Farmers and Agribusiness Association.

The program’s goal is to grow sound business managers, environmental stewards and successful marketers. The New Farmer program provides the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.

Since the program started in South Carolina started three years ago, 110 budding farmers and ranchers have graduated. This year, 37 joined them as graduates.

The program includes an application process, workshop series, site visits to successful farms, entrepreneurship training, participation in statewide agricultural organization meetings, a mentoring program and optional internships.

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