Monday, March 05, 2007

Growing Growers Apprenticeships...


Growing Growers Taking `07 Apprentice Applications

OLATHE, Kan. - A subculture living within 200 miles of metro Kansas
City 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 Growers
program. More locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables are showing
up in restaurant fare, grocery stores and farmers markets. Plus, an
ever-increasing amount is coming from certified organic farms.

The Growing Growers program is a cooperative effort that has
influenced this growth. As part of its apprenticeship program, it
networks successful market farmers with new and aspiring growers. It
also provides professional development training that´s helping
existing farmers improve and expand..

Released: March 5, 2007

"The metro area has more farmers markets and market farmers than ever
before. But, the demand for locally grown products is still bigger
than the supply," said Carey, who is a Kansas State University
Research and Extension horticulturist at K-State´s Olathe Research
Center.

Nearby community-supported agriculture programs are turning away
people who´d like to be members, Carey said. Both grocery stores and
restaurants are reporting they´d like to get more locally grown
products than currently are available.

For those who´d like to help fill that demand, Growing Growers is now
accepting apprentice applications for the 2007 growing season. The
program offers two approaches to this on-the job training at an area
host farm:

* Work at least 20 hours a week for regular wages - which sometimes
can 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 for
books. A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant helped the four-year-
old program get started, but Growing Growers now is having to become
self-sustaining.

Apprentices will still have free access, however, to the program´s
series of monthly study sessions, workshops and tours at nearby sites
in both Kansas and Missouri. The series also is open to other would-
be local growers and any established growers wanting to develop a
particular aspect of their operation.

"A good number of our graduates are already working in farming or in
some aspect of local foods. Several have started their own farms.
Others are working for existing farms and looking for their own
land," Carey said. "Some have been very creative about finding ways
to put their new skills and knowledge to use.

"One apprentice, Hilary Brown, went on to start the Local Burger
restaurant in Lawrence, using almost all local meats and vegetable
products. A couple of graduates have found you can turn a big back
yard into a niche garden - one that supplies an unusual herb or a
vegetable used in ethnic recipes."

Those interested in apprenticing should contact the Growing Growers
program manager by e-mail (growers@ksu.edu) or phone 913-488-1270.
She can direct them through the application process, which includes
visits to possible host farms.

Later, Kelly also will supply some of the apprentices´ one-on-one
training.

More information about the overall Growing Growers program and its
various offerings is on the Web at http://www.growinggrowers.org.

That page now includes a link to a new service - a listserv for
current market farmers interested in (1) asking questions of or
sharing information with peers, (2) combining orders with peers to
qualify for discounts on bulk purchases of seed and other supplies,
and (3) receiving peer and Growing Growers information and ideas on
ways to become more efficient and effective.

The Growing Growers program is a cooperative effort of Kansas State
University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Kansas Rural
Center and the Kansas City Food Circle (a community organization).


-30-


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State
University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension
Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful
knowledge 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 centers
statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.


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