Friday, October 14, 2016

Encouraging Young Farmers in New Mexico

The average age of a farmer is approximately 63 years old—5 years older than the average farmer nationwide, and more than 90 percent of food purchased by New Mexicans is imported from outside the state.

So, how do we address  this situation? The New Mexico State University Bernalillo County Extension Service (with assistance from the Mid Region Council of Governments, McCune Charitable Foundation, and Thornburg Foundation) has launched the ‘Grow the Growers’ Program, to encourage young people to go into farming and to support the viability, continuity and sustainability of a locally-based, year-round food production system.

This new initiative will integrate the existing land and water resources of Bernalillo County’s open space properties with the agricultural education and research expertise of the New Mexico State University-Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service.

The Extension Service will lead efforts to educate, train, incubate and accelerate the success of next-generation farmers in Bernalillo County. The County will provide financial and logistical support to ensure Program viability through the Program’s 2016-2017 pilot year. Additional public and private partners are assisting the County and the Extension Service with planning and implementation of the Program.

Eight classes featuring a broad spectrum of business development and production techniques will comprise the core classroom component of the Program. These classes will begin on November 21 at the Extension Service building (1510 Menaul Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107).

During the pilot year of the Program, field demonstrations and growing space will be located on approximately one acre at the Gutierrez-Hubbell House History and Cultural Center (6029 Isleta Blvd., SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104). Additional intensive internship trainings will be held at local farms (March – May, 2017).

While enrollment in the classroom courses will be open to the general public, only those who successfully complete all eight courses and an enrollment application packet will be invited to continue on to the apprenticeship and incubation phases of the Program. Acceptance criteria must be developed. The cost is $10 per class or $50 for six or more classes. Payment (cash or check) at the door. Classes will be held at Bernalillo County Extension Office 1510 Menaul Blvd NW in Albuquerque. Prior registration encouraged for planning. 

To register sand an e-mail to John Garlisch or call (505) 243-1386

Program Timeline
  • November 2016 – January 2017 Eight core competency classes
  • February 2017 Applications accepted for internships and apprenticeships
  • March – October 2017 In-field demonstrations, local farm internships and County farm apprenticeships
  • October 2017 Applications accepted for County incubator field space
  • November 2017 Incubation leases signed

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