Sprouting Farms Project

Sprouting Farms Project
Enabling beginning farmers by providing affordable land,
communal resources, equipment and experienced mentors.
Sprouting Farms: Appalachian Croft, Resource, and Training Center (Sprouting Farms) is an innovative approach to enhancing local food systems within the rural Appalachian context.

Sprouting Farms includes six main components to address these challenges: (1) a Resource Sharing Program for participants and area farms; (2) a Farm Business Accelerator Program for new and beginning farmers; (3) a Mentorship and Education Support Program that provides programs and workshops for area farms; (4) a Crofting and Land-Lease Program that provides leased land and creates affordable landownership opportunities; (5) a Production Program that provides anchor quantities for wholesale markets and a learning platform for participants, and (6) a Sales, Marketing and Production Planning Program that works to open new markets for participants and participating area farms.  This project will be based off of a farm site located in the Greenbrier Valley that offers shared facilities for washing, cooling, and packing, storage, and educational events.

Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative, Greenbrier Valley Economic Development, and Downstream Strategies will bring together a complete financial and business plan supported by a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program, an experienced project management team, grant management and partnership development, established project advisory council, croft planning resources, and extensive partnership support to launch this project. For more information, please visit www.sproutingfarms.org.

 

Benefits of the Project

  • Resources provided, shared, & maintained
  • Expenses are manageable
  • Experiential learning
  • Ownership values
  • Participants are stakeholders
  • Farming mentors available
  • Large scale studies of companion planting
  • Plots will be sectioned by shared interests (i.e. organic, non-GMO…)

Tracts & Plots
Based on the Scottish Highland’s “croft” farm, this project will serve on a communal basis. Large tracts (200+/- acres) will be acquired by the GVLFI through grants or donor funding. These tracts will be subdivided into smaller plots based on the acreage necessary for each participant’s endeavors. For example, if one young farmer wishes to graze sheep while raising rabbits for meat and geese for eggs, the plot designated will be suitable for all products.

 


 

The Communal Plot
The “communal” aspect comes into play regarding the sharing of specific resources, such as equipment and storage facilities. All participants inhabiting subdivided plots within one large tract will be provided access to one central plot that includes resource and produce storage (refrigeration, tools, farm equipment, etc.) Ideally, there will be one or more experienced farmers living on each communal plot. This will provide additional education for young and beginning farmers.

 


 

Ownership
Learning how to farm and being provided resources (primarily land), makes this project comparable to an “incubator”. What sets it apart, however, is that each participant will be given the opportunity of land ownership. This increases the value of the land and equipment to each owner, who consequently participates as a stakeholder. Payments are manageable because rather than paying for the value of the land, participants are subject to pay for their percentage of equipment use and maintenance.

Sprouting Farms Project Outline