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Sustainable learning experience

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The Sustainable Farming Association’s Sustainable Food Production (SFP) program is a beginning-farmer curriculum that emphasizes all three tenets of sustainability and provides extensive skills training. 

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SFP is committed to community development and mentoring, which fits with SFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Network organization.

A few spots remain for the fall 2014 semester of Farm Skills 101, which covers the hands-on essential skills necessary for a forage-based livestock producer.

The class teaches students the ideal methods to elevate handiness while building community and competence. Also, all students receive a free one-year SFA membership.

Farm Skills 101 consists of around 50 hours of on-farm education in three weekends of fun and fulfilling learning. These are days in the field, not field days.

Participants will need pants, closed-toe shoes, gloves and safety glasses.

Topics of study include fencing strategies for forage-based livestock systems, compassionate animal husbandry and handling, pasture management and grazing basics, and farm equipment and tools.

Instructors are all farmer-educators: Sue Wika, PhD; Tom Prieve, DVM; and Kent Solberg, MS.

Each possesses both real-world experience and the educational background to provide comprehensive sustainable food production education.

2013 SFP graduate Nicole Moore said the program’s curriculum directly empowers the student.

“Physical involvement in a process makes a lasting impression, allowing the student the space and time to discover questions or thoughts related to the experience that would otherwise have never been conceived if she or he had only read or heard about the process,” Moore said.

“With this approach, students walk away with tangible, demonstrable skills,” she continues. “What’s more effective a learning tool than, at the end of the session, being able to walk onto your own property and build yourself a reliable fence? Can’t beat that.”

Fall 2014 classes are Fridays and Saturday, October 3-4, 10-11 and 17-18 at farms near Alexandria. Friday classes run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pack sack lunches and breakfasts; a Friday local-foods supper is included.

Housing is available at Faith Haven Camp on Eagle Lake for a fee. Free primitive camping is available at farm site.

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