Logo for N.C. Cooperative Extension N.C. Cooperative Extension Homepage

New Producers / Beginning Farmers

Apprentice farmer harvesting carrots

Apprentice farmer harvesting carrots

There is growing interest in the exploration of farming as a new career in North Carolina and around the country. Much, though not all, of that interest stems from women and men of all ages that have no farming experience.

Many challenges and opportunities for new farmers are largely identical to those encountered by experienced farmers producing and selling food to local markets. Therefore, this page is a starting point, since aspiring farmers can glean resources and knowledge from other areas of this web portal.

The primary challenges to beginning farmers in North Carolina resemble those from around the country and include access to land, access to capital, and farm business planning training and support. Resources below may help you in answering some of your questions and addressing your challenges. Additionally, there are numerous organizations in North Carolina offering internships, apprenticeships, skill training, networking, and other kinds of support for new farmers.

USDA Beginning Farmer Resources:

  • FarmAnswers.org – The USDA-NIFA beginning farmer and rancher (BFRDP) clearinghouse, providing resources to help you get started farming, as well as tools to help more seasoned producers succeed.
  • USDA New Farmers website – Includes resources on Getting Started, Access to Land and Capital, Education, Risk Management, Protecting and Enhancing the Environment, Expanding Business, and more resources.
    • Personalize your search on the USDA website using the new Discovery Tool.

Training and Leadership Programs

  • Farm Beginnings: Year-Long Farmer Trainings, Organic Growers School
    A farmer-led training and support program.
  • Incubator Farms
    • Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator
      Beginning farmer training and land access opportunities based in Orange County, NC.
    • Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm
      Beginning farmer training and land access opportunities based in Cabarrus County, NC.
    • Onslow County Incubator Farm
      Beginning farmer training and land access opportunities based in Onslow County, NC. Contact the Onslow County Cooperative Extension office for more information.
    • The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Farmer Incubator Program is located in Buncombe County, NC. This farm provides land to help farmers initiate or expand agricultural businesses.”
    • Transplanting Traditions Community Farm is a project of the Orange County Partnership for Young Children. This farm, based in Orange County, NC, “provides refugee adults and youth access to land, healthy food and agricultural and entrepreneurial opportunities.”
    • If you would have an incubator farm program in North Carolina and would to have your program listed here, please contact joanna_lelekacs@ncsu.edu.
    • Want to start a new Incubator Farm?
      • National Incubator Farm Training Initiative – “Provides comprehensive one-on-one consulting, educational resources, and professional development opportunities for dozens of organizations throughout North America.”
        • The Farm Incubator Toolkit – “A comprehensive guide to starting and operating land-based beginning farmer training programs.”
      • Incubator Farm Planning Resources
        Resources for communities or organizations interested in starting new incubator farms developed through the North Carolina project, Bringing New Farmers to the Table, between 2010 and 2013.
Resources for Beginning Farmers on the Business of Farming

Conferences for Beginning Farmers

  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference
    Annual event based alternate years in Greenville, SC and Durham, NC. Generally has a beginning farmer workshop track and tour.
  • Organic Growers School – Annual Conference
    Annual conference in Western North Carolina, supporting new and existing farmers and gardeners interested in organic and sustainable agriculture.

Resources for Veterans Getting Started in Farming

USDA Rural Development – North Carolina

Written By

Photo of Joanna LelekacsJoanna LelekacsExtension Local Food Flagship Program Manager (919) 515-1195 joanna_lelekacs@ncsu.eduANR/CRD - NC State University
Was the information on this page helpful? Yes check No close