Organic Farming Program Receives $498,706 USDA Grant
Funds to help Rodale Institute and Delaware Valley University prepare a new generation of organic farmers.
Rodale Institute and Delaware Valley University have been awarded a $498,706 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The three-year Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant will support the Organic Farming Program, a joint initiative between Rodale Institute and DelVal that prepares graduates for careers in organic agriculture. This is the second BFRDP grant the Organic Farming Program has received. The first, covering 2014 to 2017, was for approximately $370,000.
The 36-credit, one-year Organic Farming Program was established in 2012 and includes two semesters at the University and one semester at Rodale Institute. Students graduate with the knowledge and experience necessary to start a small-scale organic farm or work for an organic operation. The program offers assistance with job placement and developing business plans for farms so that graduates can easily move into organic agriculture careers.
“Having this support from the USDA shows that people are paying attention to organic agriculture,” said Lyndsey Antanitis, Rodale Institute’s veteran farming program coordinator. “There is a growing demand for organic products, and organic farming can be profitable while letting young people run their own business and support the environment. The interest in this program is growing. It’s helping people realize their dreams of being organic farmers and providing safe, healthy food.”
The Organic Farming Program is open to all students, but has been particularly popular with military veterans looking to transition into civilian careers. DelVal is proud to be a Yellow Ribbon Program school, and veterans can use their G.I. Bill benefits for the program. The program is growing and aims to enroll 43 new students, including 28 veterans, over the next three years.
The USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grants help address issues associated with the rising age and decreasing numbers of U.S. farmers. The grants support programs that provide education, mentoring and technical assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers.
“According to the 2012 Agriculture Census undertaken by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the average age of the American farmer is approximately 59 years old,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the UDSA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides the training and resources to attract a wide range of communities – veterans, refugees, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, women, individuals from underrepresented groups, small farmers, aspiring farm workers and others – into farming and ranching.”
The USDA awarded 36 BFRDP grants totaling $17.7 million. Among the other recipients were Penn State and Cornell universities.
For more information about the Organic Farming Program, please contact: email@example.com or, visit delval.edu/organic. For a video of the Organic Farming Program students thanking the USDA, please visit https://youtu.be/0KFQLE5ljug.
Visit Organic Farming Program Representatives at The Pennsylvania Farm Show: Representatives from the Organic Farming Program will staff a table at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, Jan. 11, as part of a special program for members of the military, veterans and their families. Stop by to learn more about the application process and financial aid. The Organic Farming Program is a quick pathway to a career in organic agriculture. DelVal is proud to be a Yellow Ribbon School. The program is an approved non-degree certificate program and is eligible for enrollment by veterans who would like to use their education benefits. Financial aid is also now available for non-veterans through the University.
About Rodale Institute
Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For nearly 70 years, the Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet. Today, Rodale Institute is the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture.
About Delaware Valley University
Delaware Valley University is an independent, comprehensive university with more than 1,000 acres in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Founded in 1896, DelVal emphasizes experiential and interdisciplinary learning and provides small class sizes where students learn on a first-name basis. Through the innovative Experience360 Program, all DelVal students gain real world experience in their fields. Located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, DelVal combines the comfort of small-town living with the excitement of big-city access. DelVal offers more than 25 undergraduate majors in the sciences, humanities and business, more than five master’s programs, a Doctor of Education and a variety of adult education courses.
Learn more about beginning farmer training programs from beginningfarmers.org at http://www.beginningfarmers.org/beginning-farmer-training-programs/