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Learning how to farm


Gone are the days when most people learned agricultural skills by helping out their parents on the family farm. Now many new farmers come from cities and may lack the basic knowledge of farming. How do you learn how
to farm?

Fortunately, there are a range of options available from watching a workshop on your computer screen, to hanging out in a field with a bunch of farmers, to taking a four-year university course. Here’s a sample of the learning opportunities available for wannabe and experienced farmers. Even people who have been farming for decades can benefit from training that helps them learn about new farm technology, develop new skills and refine age-old methods.

The long haul: degrees, diplomas and full-time courses
Immerse yourself in the study of farming. You can study full-time in degree and diploma agriculture courses in agriculture at universities and colleges across the country.

Cégep-Heritage College
Management of the Farm Enterprise is a full-time course from October to May in Campbell’s Bay, QC.

Dalhousie University
In Truro, Nova Scotia, the Faculty of Agriculture offers degree university credit courses and extended learning courses. You can get certificates in Animal Welfare, Integrated Pest Management and Organic Agriculture, or diplomas in agriculture.

Fleming College
The Sustainable Agriculture Co-op program offered in Lindsay, ON, is designed for new and beginner farmers seeking an intensive, applied learning experience in sustainable, ecological or natural farming methods.

McGill University
MacDonald College offers degree programs in Farm Management and Technology, Global Food Security, and Agro-Environmental Sciences with specializations in Animals Production, Ecological Agriculture, Plant Production, Professional Agrology, and Soil and Water Resources.

Olds College
In Olds, AB, you can get a degree, such as Bachelor of Applied Science- Agribusiness or an Agronomy Certificate.

Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) Farm School
A collaboration between the TFN and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the school fuses sustainable agriculture and traditional indigenous food systems during 300 classroom hours and 350 practicum hours within a 10-month semester. The farm school is open to all with curiosity on how to feed a growing population while restoring the land. The curriculum takes place on traditional TFN lands on a 20-acre farm with a traditional medicine garden, a 2-acre mixed fruit orchard, an organic market garden, farm animals and incubator plots for the students that graduate from the program. The TFN Farm School is a gathering place to raise awareness around human-scaled alternative food production systems.

University of the Fraser Valley
The Agriculture Technology programs provide a valuable combination of practical and theoretical training. Certificates and diplomas are available in livestock production and horticulture crop production and protection.? Courses include pest management, greenhouse and nursery production, food safety, animal husbandry and soils. Study part-time or full-time at the Agriculture Centre at the campus in Chilliwack, BC.

University of Guelph
In this school which boastsone of the best-known agriculture programs in the country, you can get degrees or diplomas in Agriculture, Horticulture, Veterinary Technology, Equine and more at the main Guelph campus and Ridgetown Campus. Certificates offered at Ridgetown include Performance Horse Handler, Growing Plants for Profit, Horticulturalist and Sustainable Urban Agriculture. Courses at the main campus include Crop Science Field Trip; Challenges and Opportunities in Animal Production; Agricultural Communications; Soil and Weed Science; Beef Nutrition; Dairy Nutrition; and Poverty, Food and Hunger.,, ?

Workshops & courses
In classrooms, barns and fields, you can learn new skills and innovative approaches to farming. Courses on farming skills are offered by non-profit farming organizations, businesses, government extension offices and continuing education departments of universities. Even if you feel you have mastered a subject, you might discover a great shortcut or a farming trick that is completely unrelated to the class subject. Be open to the learning that happens when farmers talk, whether during the workshop or while hanging out next to their trucks at the end of the day.
In one-day workshops or weekly evening classes, you can take classes that range from practical to esoteric. You can learn skills such as welding, soil management, planting by the moon, or marketing with social media.

Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN)
Throughout Atlantic Canada, ACORN hosts organic farming workshops on topics ranging from advanced farming methods and marketing to introductions to organic farming. ACORN is open to assisting kitchen table meetings — grassroots farmer gatherings on topics chosen by the farmers.

Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM)
Designed specifically for farmers and ranchers, CTEAM participants use their own data and come away with a strategic business plan for their farm and a comprehensive skill set in farm business management.

Centre for Small Farms
In Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, the centre offers skills and resources to nurture a culture that acknowledges, engages with, and celebrates farms and food with intensive hands-on day-long workshops and short courses that focus on permaculture design and organic farming methods, cheese making, mead making, planning a seed garden and more.

Cégep -Heritage College
In Campbell’s Bay, QC, you can take evening and or weekend classes on farming subjects including Honey Production/Backyard Beekeeping and Maple Syrup Production.

Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture
The Extended Learning Department in Truro, NS, offers in-class workshops on subjects as diverse as Tractor Safety, Welding, The Modern Beekeeper, The Modern Shepherd and Horticultural Judging.

Ecological Farmers of Ontario (EFAO)
Based on the premise that farmers learn best from other farmers, EFAO helps farmers connect face-to-face in Kitchen Table Meetings, Farm Tours and On-Farm Workshops.

At an ecovillage in the South Gulf Islands of B.C., take courses on topics such as food preservation, soap making, cider making, cheese making, “no new plastic” greenhousing, biodiesel and humanure.

“Growing great food or raising healthy livestock is one thing, selling them is another. Everdale’s Farm Planner course will help you build a comprehensive farm plan ensuring a sustainable business for years to come.” Seven full-day sessions in Guelph, ON, between November to February. Everdale also offers one-day workshops on farming skills at Hillsburgh, ON.?

Farms at Work
The Ontario non-profit charitable project has developed an innovative model of field courses based on a mentorship approach — on-farm, small group, curriculum-based courses that are led by highly experienced farmers. Topics include sheep production, beekeeping,maple syrup production, native pollinators and farm business planning.

Gaia College
In several locations across Canada, Gaia’s classroom courses provide an integrative, evidence-based framework for soil care, garden design, growing food and understanding plants. The courses in organic land care practices have varied formats ranging from intensives spread over multiple weekends to semester- or season-long programs.

Getting Started in Sheep
A two-day workshop in November in Saskatoon offered by the Sheep Development Board,

Growing Food Course
In Ottawa, Guelph, Toronto, Canadian Organic Growers provides the course over an entire food growing season so you can gain the essential gardening skills and the confidence to grow most of your own food. If you are concerned about where your food comes from, what’s in it (or on it), or simply getting the best nutrition possible for your family, this course is for you! Grow an abundance of healthy, nutritious and delicious food right away this year, save hundreds of dollars on your food budget and take a giant step towards increasing your family’s food security.

Harrison Lewis Centre
Short hands-on rural living workshops, such as women’s chain sawing , hand mowing (using a scythe) and growing mushrooms. Limited enrollment, excellent instruction, great meals, amazing wilderness coastal setting near Port Joli, NS.

McGill University
MacDonald College organizes specialized workshops on topics including Food Safety and Quality. The college can provide customized workshops to meet the needs of the participants.

Organic Master Gardener Course
Offered by Canadian Organic Growers in Nanaimo and Nelson, BC, and Toronto and Ottawa, ON, the 14-week Organic Master Gardener Certificate is designed for all levels of urban growers, community gardeners, landscapers, municipal parks personnel, environmental advocates, naturalists, conservationists and gardening enthusiasts. This comprehensive and inspiring course lays the foundation for making decisions on growing plants for ornamental or food purposes based on SOUL (Society for Organic Urban Land Care) organic standards.

School of the New American Farmstead
Workshops on farming, food preparation and rural living. The Vermont school is supported by Chelsea Green Publishing, and many workshops are led by their authors — sustainable agriculture pioneers and reverent food artisans.

Tillers International
In Michigan, Tillers offers classes in farming and logging with draft animals, as well as traditional farm homesteading and artisanal skills, such as blacksmithing, woodworking, coopering, beekeeping, cheese making, caring for livestock, canning and preserving food.

Toronto Botanical Garden
Choose from more than 100 classes each year, including day, evening and weekend classes on urban beekeeping, floral design, horticultural therapy, botanical art, photography, nature and gardening.

Transitioning to Organic Certification
Provided by Canadian Organic Growers in various locations across Canada in Fall & Winter 2016/2017. The workshops are designed for producers interested in transitioning to or learning more about certified organic farming.

Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT)
If you’re ready for a full, hands-on experience that will immerse you in ecological farming then CRAFT SW Ontario is your gateway to a farming internship experience that will change your life.?

Farms at Work
Mentorships are curriculum-based, multi-day training programs in which expert farmers and trainers work with small groups of mentees throughout a farming season. Each program allows for the efficient transfer of commodity-specific knowledge in beekeeping, sheep farming and maple syrup production.

Grow A Farmer Mentorship Program
Beginner farmers are paired with local experienced organic farmers based on educational goals and areas of agricultural expertise. ACORN’s Mentor Farmers work one-on-one to help ease the transition for new, transitioning and aspiring farm-owners, and help build the skills, network and community so necessary for new entrant success. Through this match-making process, ACORN seeks to foster long-standing relationships that will build the sector of organic and ecological growers in Atlantic Canada.

Learn to Farm
The Farm School’s year-long program which starts in October, teaches students forestry, animal husbandry, carpentry, mechanics, business planning and marketing while working on a farm in Massachusetts.

North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program
Aspiring farmers can develop the skills and knowledge they need to build successful organic and biodynamic farms. The program combines: 24 months of structured on-farm training and mentoring; an independent, on-farm project; and classroom study in biodynamics. Upon completion of their training, apprentices are awarded a certificate in biodynamic farming from the Biodynamic Association.

Stewards of Irreplaceable Lands (SOIL)
SOIL offers Canada’s Sustainable Farm Apprenticeship Program. The non-profit organization links Canadian farmers willing to train apprentices with folks wanting to work and learn on an organic farm using sustainable practices. bóng đá trực tuyến

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
WWOOF is living, learning and sharing organic lifestyles. Volunteers help in exchange for food, accommodation and learning opportunities in organic farming/growing and sustainable life practices. There is no hierarchy between host and volunteer, no productivity expectations, no financial transactions and as such WWOOFing encourages a partnership based on mutual trust and respect.

Seed saving
It has never been easier to learn how to save seed. Seed saving courses, conferences, webinars and mentorships are happening all across Canada, thanks to The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. The program is implemented across the country by five host organizations; each of which takes its own unique approach to training seed savers with the strategic guidance of national-level partners USC Canada and Seeds of Diversity.

Seed saving learning opportunities include the following.

“Seeing Seed from Every Angle” Webinars
The series explores a variety of seed topics featuring seed expertise from across the continent.

National Seed Curriculum
In partnership with Canadian Organic Growers, there are plans to develop a national curriculum on intermediate level seed production. Using a flexible online platform, the course will combine classroom-style learning with possible field components for hands-on experience. The schedule for release is 2017, stay tuned for more details.

Regional seed training programs
The five partnering organizations offer field days, classroom and hands-on workshops, farm tours, investigative travel, and internships or farmer mentorships. To learn more contact the following.

Annual conferences can be the one time in a year when farmers from across a region meet. There are chances to learn during workshops and seminars, but also while talking with other farmers over meals. Small talk can quickly evolve into discussions of how to deal with potato beetles or the latest seed cleaning equipment. Trade shows give farmers a chance to see new equipment and products while talking to sales reps, and most importantly, other farmers who may have tried the products.

July 28-29, 2016: Skowhegan, Maine
Annual Kneading Conference
Bringing together farmers, professional and home bakers, chefs, maltsters and wood-fired oven enthusiasts to educate one another about the art and science of growing and milling grains and baking artisan breads.

September 17-25, 2016: Across Canada.
Canada’s National Organic Week
The largest annual celebration of organic food, farming and products across the country. Hundreds of individual events showcase the benefits of organic agriculture and its positive impact on the environment.

September 19-21, 2016: Montréal-Longueuil, QC
Canadian Organic Science Conference
International and Canadian researchers present their work on all aspects of organic agriculture, as well as a field day of visits to Quebec organic farms. The conference will be a unique opportunity for researchers, agricultural advisors and producers to share and learn more about the latest developments and findings in organic agriculture research across Canada.

September 23-26, 2016: Unity, Maine
Common Ground Fair
If you’ve ever been to the Fair, you know — and if you haven’t been, anyone who has will tell you — it’s an event like no other, that brings together nearly 60,000 people, all in the spirit of celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions. Hands-on demonstrations with draft animals, fibre arts, rural living skills, scything and much more.

October 3-4, 2016: Toronto, ON
Advancing Women Conferences
Women make a significant contribution to our Canadian agriculture industry, but special skills are required to lead and make a difference. Opportunities for women in agriculture have never been better! To connect successful women to others and help women capitalize on these opportunities, Iris Meck Communications Inc. has created the Advancing Women Conferences. Women attend to listen, learn, network and grow their skills. Join 500+ participants at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York as powerful speakers discuss leadership development, finances, career building, mentorship and communication. Invest in yourself at agriculture’s premier women’s conference this fall!

November 3-5, 2016: Regina, SK
Organic Connections Convention and Trade Show
A farm show with a positive outlook! The organizers state, “We are enjoying a time in organics as demand outstrips supply and farm prices reflect the positive market conditions. Organic export markets open new opportunities while we are challenged with losing long-time producers while new farmers wonder where to start.” The program covers practical agronomic and marketing information, and a few things thrown in just for fun.

November 23-24, 2016: Calgary, AB
Agricultural Excellence
Taking place in a different province each year, the Agricultural Excellence Conference is focused on farm business management. The theme for 2016 is “Plan and Prosper: Set the Course for Farm Success.”

November 16-20, 2016: Santa Fe, NM
North American Biodynamic Conference
“Tierra Viva: Farming the Living Earth” is the theme of this biennial conference which draws hundreds of farmers, gardeners, educators, activists, and food lovers from across North America. bóng đá trực tuyến

November 28-30, 2016: Moncton, NB
ACORN Conference
A fun, 3-day event that brings together organic and sustainable farmers, processors and businesses from across the region, and beyond!? The conference is being hosted in partnership with the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers’ Network (ECOSGN), a farmer organization dedicated to the production of and education about local and organic seeds. This year’s ACORN conference will feature 2 full days of seed training, including sessions on basic biennial production, stock seed, cover cropping and crop rotations for seed production, and plant breeding.

November 30-December 2. Kingston, ON
Ecological Farmers of Ontario Conference Details will be posted at

January 21, 2017: Guelph, ON
FarmSmart. Speakers present and emerging technologies and innovations on crop and livestock production, soil and environmental management, business, marketing, and general interest topics.

January 26-29, 2017: Guelph, ON
Guelph Organic Conference
If you want to learn about organics, this is the place to be. Connect with organic farmers from across the country. Learn about organic farming in short introductory sessions or three-hour intensive workshops on advanced topics. On the Saturday and Sunday, the trade show features 165 booths with up to 45 organic sampling booths.

February 2017: Cornwall, ON.
7th?Annual EcoFarmDay
An annual full-day conference put on by the COG Ottawa-St. Lawrence-Outaouais Chapter that brings in speakers from across the country to give informative lectures and workshops on various topics related to organic production.

February 2017: Toronto, ON
11th?Annual Organic Consumer Conference
Hosted by the COG Toronto Chapter, this annual consumer conference includes a lineup of international speakers presenting on topics related to food security, organics, consumer choices, GMOs, transparency and human health.

February 23-27, 2017: Ottawa, ON
Canadian Young Farmers Forum Conference & AGM.
Stay posted for details at