Farmers in Spokane and Lincoln counties are invited to mentor aspiring farmers as part of a unique effort in Eastern Washington.
The mentors will help new farmers learn the ropes of a successful operation. The effort is sponsored by Washington State University’s Spokane County Extension and the Spokane Conservation District.
“They can sit in class, push papers and do internet research, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of really running a farm, nothing beats getting out there with a good experienced farmer and learning hands-on,” said Pat Munts, Spokane County Extension small farms and urban agriculture coordinator. “It puts everything they may have done book learning on to the test and they really can find out, ‘Hey, do I really want to do this?’”
Spokane and Lincoln counties are included in the state Department of Labor and Industries’ farm and internship program, Munts said. Farmers must qualify for the program, but are covered for L&I issues, she said.
The program is open to anyone seriously considering small-scale agriculture.
Munts said the schedule will be flexible. Farmers will set up a curriculum, and Munts will monitor teams in the field.
Farmers and mentors must go through interviews.
“We’re looking for people who have a lot of drive to do this,” Munts said of intern candidates.
Munts hopes to have the program started by end of March, and it will run through the end of September. She’d like to have 15 interns and 10 to 15 farmers participating.
The program is a test run for possible expansion of the Cultivating Success mentor-intern program. It fell to the wayside during the recession, but Munts hopes to revive it and take it statewide.
The program uses funding from a $37,000 grant from WSU’s Western Extension Risk Management Education Center program.
Farmers receive a stipend for mentoring, Munts said.
Contact Munts at 509-477-2173 or firstname.lastname@example.org