Growing Growers Taking `07 Apprentice ApplicationsOLATHE, Kan. - A subculture living within 200 miles of metro KansasCity is getting bigger and better.As a result, the area - including K.C. - is already eating better,according to Ted Carey, program coordinator for the Growing Growersprogram. More locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables are showingup in restaurant fare, grocery stores and farmers markets. Plus, anever-increasing amount is coming from certified organic farms.The Growing Growers program is a cooperative effort that hasinfluenced this growth. As part of its apprenticeship program, itnetworks successful market farmers with new and aspiring growers. Italso provides professional development training that´s helpingexisting farmers improve and expand..Released: March 5, 2007"The metro area has more farmers markets and market farmers than everbefore. But, the demand for locally grown products is still biggerthan the supply," said Carey, who is a Kansas State UniversityResearch and Extension horticulturist at K-State´s Olathe ResearchCenter.Nearby community-supported agriculture programs are turning awaypeople who´d like to be members, Carey said. Both grocery stores andrestaurants are reporting they´d like to get more locally grownproducts than currently are available.For those who´d like to help fill that demand, Growing Growers is nowaccepting apprentice applications for the 2007 growing season. Theprogram offers two approaches to this on-the job training at an areahost farm:* Work at least 20 hours a week for regular wages - which sometimescan include room and board.* Work a minimum of four hours a week as a volunteer.This year, those accepted as apprentices will have to pay $150 forbooks. A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant helped the four-year-old program get started, but Growing Growers now is having to becomeself-sustaining.Apprentices will still have free access, however, to the program´sseries of monthly study sessions, workshops and tours at nearby sitesin both Kansas and Missouri. The series also is open to other would-be local growers and any established growers wanting to develop aparticular aspect of their operation."A good number of our graduates are already working in farming or insome aspect of local foods. Several have started their own farms.Others are working for existing farms and looking for their ownland," Carey said. "Some have been very creative about finding waysto put their new skills and knowledge to use."One apprentice, Hilary Brown, went on to start the Local Burgerrestaurant in Lawrence, using almost all local meats and vegetableproducts. A couple of graduates have found you can turn a big backyard into a niche garden - one that supplies an unusual herb or avegetable used in ethnic recipes."Those interested in apprenticing should contact the Growing Growersprogram manager by e-mail (email@example.com) or phone 913-488-1270.She can direct them through the application process, which includesvisits to possible host farms.Later, Kelly also will supply some of the apprentices´ one-on-onetraining.More information about the overall Growing Growers program and itsvarious offerings is on the Web at http://www.growinggrowers.org.That page now includes a link to a new service - a listserv forcurrent market farmers interested in (1) asking questions of orsharing information with peers, (2) combining orders with peers toqualify for discounts on bulk purchases of seed and other supplies,and (3) receiving peer and Growing Growers information and ideas onways to become more efficient and effective.The Growing Growers program is a cooperative effort of Kansas StateUniversity, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Kansas RuralCenter and the Kansas City Food Circle (a community organization). -30-K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas StateUniversity Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative ExtensionService, a program designed to generate and distribute usefulknowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state,federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices,experiment fields, area Extension offices and research centersstatewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.
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