Raleigh—In a time when local farmers are aging out— even as demand for locally grown food is increasing— the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is growing the next generation of North Carolina farmers. USDA representative Ron Brown announced the award of a $700,000 grant to fund Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s 2-year old Young Farmers Training Program. Initially seeded by funding from the John Rex Endowment in 2010, the Young Farmers Training program currently has 7 returning second-year students and 12 first-year students. Many of the teenage farmers expect to go on to colleges to study agriculture or dig in to work-study programs and internships to get a hands-in-the-dirt education. The program is the only such training in North Carolina targeted to youth 15-18 years of age.
The USDA funding is among the largest awards in IFFS’s 23-year history, and will be used to support staff salaries, purchase farm equipment and supplies, and develop teaching materials—all to be used on IFFS’s 6 acre outdoor classroom, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm on Dover Farm Road in West Raleigh.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle partnered with Growing Power Regional Outreach Training Center and North Carolina State University to apply for the USDA grant. The organizations will work together to create a rich and fertile learning environment by:
- providing hands-on technical training in basic crop farming practices
- creating a centralized network of farmers to explore new farming methods
- connecting retired farmers with beginning farmers
- connecting young future farmers with food system leaders across North Carolina
WHAT IS THE YOUNG FARMER TRAINING PROGRAM? The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Young Farmer Training Program is a paid multi-year farming apprenticeship for youth in Wake County. The IFFS Raleigh Farm hosts apprentices two days per week beginning each Spring.
- Apprentices grow vegetables, herbs, mushrooms and flowers on our 6-acre Raleigh farm, helping feed IFFS distribution across 200 agencies in seven counties.
- YFTP apprentices are leaders that co-design and implement profitable farm plans, market their farm products while keeping good records, cook and share healthy meals, teach the community about farming and gardening, and advocate for a better food system. After graduation from their first year, apprentices can apply for a second year YFTP apprenticeship.
- Food justice, inclusivity, meaningful economic development and environmental stewardship are pillars of YFTP.
WHO CAN JOIN THE PROGRAM? Wake County teens ages 15-18, who are interested in farming and ending hunger in their community. No previous farming experience necessary!
WHERE IS THE PROGRAM? Most days, YFTP apprentices are on our IFFS six-acre Raleigh farm on Tryon Rd. Monthly field trips include community gardens, farms, homesteads, and food sites.
WHEN IS THE PROGRAM? 3 Sessions:
- Spring into Farming: April 3 - June 2: Tues 4-6pm & Sat 9am-1pm
- Summer on the Farm: June 12 – August 18: Tues 9am-1pm & Sat 9am-1pm
- Fall for Farmers: August 28 - October 27: Tues 4-6pm & Sat 9am-1pm
WHAT APPRENTICES RECEIVE:
- Weekly stipend, weekly fresh vegetables, and healthy recipes
- Scholarship opportunities for workshops, conferences and courses
- Extra income from sales of vegetables, flowers, herbs
- Hands-on farming and business management skills
- Culinary and nutrition training; experience cooking with farm fresh food
- Connection with other teens and local farmers
- Certificate for each completed training session
- Opportunities, resources and land to manage your own farm or garden project