Training and Creative Land Tenure Jump Starts Farming Careers

— Written By

Submitted by Nicole DelCogliano, Organic Growers School

Will and Savannah Salley of Headwaters Market Garden are currently in their third season as farmers, growing a mix of vegetables and specialty greens. They are 2018 graduates from the Organic Growers School’s Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training program and are incubator farmers on the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s community farm. 

When they applied to the OGS program, Savannah stated, “I am interested in Farm Beginnings because I believe it is an incredible opportunity to learn and grow, not only in farming and business but as a person. The chance to immerse myself into the farming community here in WNC is very exciting to me.” They spent 12 months in classes, mentoring and participating in on-farm field days, while they were also in their first years of farming.  “We did have our challenges during the class by being so consumed with the farm, but I am happy we followed through with taking Farm Beginnings®. We were able to organize a lot of ideas we had by using tools & examples we were given to help us make that information useful for our business. We have also made some great connections and friends through this process and we are excited to continue growing those relationships throughout the years.” 

Will and Savannah didn’t have extensive farming backgrounds but knew they wanted to move to the Asheville area. Savannah says, “We wanted to get into farming but really didn’t know how we were going to do that.” When they found the SAHC community farm,  an opportunity to be in a supportive learning environment, plus the additional training of Farm Beginnings®, it was a  perfect combination to launch their farm and business. 

Image of tomato vines Image of Will and Savannah

Headwaters Market Garden is a vendor at the Asheville City Market and sells to local restaurants. 

Organic Growers School has graduated 43 farmers in the last 4 years and will graduate  55 by September 2019.  Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is entering its fifth year offering a year-long farmer training. Organic Growers School will begin this year’s program in October 2019 at Creekside Farm & Education Center at Walnut Cove in Arden, NC and is currently accepting applications. The 2019-2020 program will continue a partnership with Living Web Farms who offer a diversity of farm and organic living workshops that students will have full access to, in addition to on-farm workshops at The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Community Farm in Alexander, NC. Applications will be accepted for the program on a rolling basis until  September 15th, 2019. Early bird discount of $100 off for applications received by August 1st. For more information and to apply for Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training visit: Farm Beginnings

Organic Growers School (OGS) is the premier provider of practical and affordable organic education in the Southern Appalachians, building a vibrant food & farming community by boosting the success of organic home growers and farmers in our region. A 501c3 non-profit, OGS is based in Asheville, NC, and has been serving the region since 1993. Farm Beginnings® is funded by USDA National Institute for Food & Agriculture, USDA Rural Development, the Clif Bar Family Foundation, and the Community Foundation of WNC and is a partnership of Farm Pathways, including Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and NC Farm Link.