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Kootenay Farm School Creative Education for Grassroots Agriculture

By Kootenay Farm School Staff R

ecent research into the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the Columbia Basin

has affirmed what Kootenay residents can see happen- ing all around us. Between 2006 and 2011, according to The State of the Basin 2013, the area being farmed in our region shrunk by almost twenty percent. During the same period we lost 1 in 10 farms and the average age of the Basin farmer rose from 54 to 57.

We know that these changes are today’s norm and that the obstacles on our region’s road towards food secu- rity are hardly unique. At the same time, we also know that both our region’s successes and its challenges are shaped by our particular geography, ecology, heritage, and culture. The progress we achieve is borne of our place in the world, our lands, our people, and the ways we come together.

The College of the Rockies Creston Valley campus recognizes this, and has established the Kootenay Farm School to bring people together to discover,

teach, and support non-capital intensive, ecologically- sound, human-scale agriculture.

Education for a New Generation of Farmers

At the heart of COTR’s Kootenay Farm School is the Beginner Farmer Training Program. Seed funding from the BC Ministry of Advanced Education is be- ing used to design and deliver ten months of intensive education for aspiring farmers. Beginning in Febru- ary 2014, students will spend Thursdays, Fridays, and most Saturdays gaining a footing in plant science, soil stewardship, permaculture design, market, fruit, and seed crop production, animal husbandry, apiculture, and small farm technology.

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Growing A New Crop of Farmers

Kootenay Farm School’s mission is to preserve and cultivate farming wisdom in our region. We are working to:

• record and pass on the knowledge of veteran agriculturalists;

• inspire and train new entrants into agriculture; • foster trust and understanding between exist- ing and new farmers; and,

• help ensure that the wisdom embedded in Kootenay farmland itself is not squandered.

Kootenay Farm School is always looking for stu- dents, teachers, mentor and host-farmers, part- ners, funders, and friends. Visit kootenay-farm-school or kootenayfarmschool. Email farmschool@cotr.

Phone 250-428-5332 extension 4181. Or stop by the COTR Creston Valley campus.

BC Organic Grower, Volume 17, Number 1, Winter 2014

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