‘Solid Ground' Is Teaching Tricks Of The Trade to Farmers Old & New

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UConn Extension is an organization through the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources that educates people of all ages across the state about a wide variety of topics, including farming.

Whether you're new to farming, interested in learning about farming, or a seasoned veteran in the industry, UConn Extension has a program for you.

“Farming is, you know, one of the oldest professions in history right, so there’s so much to learn,” said Charlotte Ross “I’ve been in business for 10 years and I’m learning something new every day.”

Along with her husband and two kids, Ross grows certified organic vegetables at Sweet Acre Farm in Lebanon. She saw first-hand how beneficial the UConn Extension program is and she is now a program coordinator for Solid Ground.

“A lot of first-generation farmers often don’t have or aren’t connected to all the resources they need to not only start their farms but make them sustainable,” Ross said.

Solid Ground got its start thanks to a grant through the USDA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development program. The vast majority of the courses offered are free and accessible to anyone interested in farming or people who have been in business and want to learn more.

Most of the classes are taught online, with a few offered in person. The program connects farmers to service providers, organizations to help farmers find land, and so much more.

The program goes beyond traditional farming. It covers subjects like agroecology, urban farming, soil health, climate change adaptation, and DIY infrastructure.

Ag mechanics is another course offered. The work for that course is hands-on. It’s taught at Rockville High School through their Agriculture, Science and Technology Program.

“We have the facilities here for our agriculture students so it’s a great opportunity for us to work with them on that,” said Erika Bahler, the Department Head for the program. “We’ve got welding, we do carpentry, we do small engines, we do large engines as well. Operation and maintenance -- we have a lot of tractors and things like that here.”

And this education is more important now than ever with the average age of a farmer is in their 60s. These farmers will soon retire and a new generation needs to step in.

“So there’s a lot of land that’s going to be vulnerable to development,” Ross said.  “Or be completely overgrown and lost in their production value so we really do need a new crop of growers coming up.”

To learn more about Solid Ground, a program of Uconn Extension, click here.

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