With growing demands in fruit and vegetable production across the U.S., including Kansas City, the Growing Growers program was developed in 2004 by Kansas State University to train new and existing specialty crop farmers on effective growing practices for Missouri/Kansas soils and climate. The Growing Growers program provides education to new and experienced growers through a farm apprenticeship program and an annual workshop series.
APPRENTICESHIPS: Apprentices work on fruit & vegetable farms in the Kansas City region (including Lawrence, Kansas) to get first-hand, practical farming experience. They attend the workshops series during the production season and receive one-on-one mentorship with their host farmer. Apprenticeship positions can be paid or volunteer positions. First year apprentices receive a broad overview of farming practices. Those who participate a second year gain more advanced farm management skills.
WORKSHOPS: The Growing Growers program offers workshops throughout the year that are open to the public. The classes address skills required to run a local farm (see workshop page to view current series). The core workshops include introduction to soil management; production planning and plant propagation; post-harvest handling; small farm equipment and drip irrigation; insect, disease, and weed management; and farm business management. Workshops are geared toward beginner farmers, but all the classes offer great information and skill development for more experienced farmers as well! All classes are open to the public and class fees apply.
GROWERS LISTSERV: The Growing Growers program maintains a listserv for communication and information sharing. Participants include area growers, restaurateurs, grocery stores, extension agents, and other parties interested in the local farming industry. Local grocers and restaurants post emails soliciting suppliers; people organizing educational activities send out notices about workshops, farm tours and conferences. Anyone can sign up - visit our GrowersKC Listserv page for more details!
OTHER EDUCATIONAL AND NETWORKING EVENTS: The Growing Growers program occasionally organizes special events to help strengthen the local farming industry. In 2013, Growing Growers developed a one day conference, “Feeding Kansas City" to address marketing channels to help farmers figure out how and where to sell their vegetables, meats, and dairy products. Other events include workshops on farm business planning, budgets, and financing.
in the wichita area?
Are you located in the Wichita / Sedgwick County area? Check out our partner, Growing Growers ICTfor apprenticeship program and workshop opportunities. You can also directly contact their program manager, Lyndsay Feather at firstname.lastname@example.org.