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Farming has never been easy. But for young people looking to join the local agriculture economy these days, it’s becoming an even longer row to hoe. (Oh, yes, we did.) In places like Lander, Wyoming, many aspiring growers lack the technical skills or business acumen needed to enter the agriculture industry. And for those who do have the background, access to fertile land, water, and capital remain barriers to entry. The result: The average age of Wyoming farmers continues to climb. But what happens when these farmers retire?
It’s a problem the Central Wyoming College Farmer Training Program, located at CWC’s Alpine Science Institute campus in Sinks Canyon, aims to address. The new program, supported in part by LOR, offers students an opportunity to learn agricultural and business skills and then—if they’re ready to take the next step—use the Alpine Science Institute’s land to launch their own enterprises through a business incubator program.
Throughout the summer of 2021, CWC piloted the program with six students, half of whom will likely take advantage of the farm incubator program in the spring and summer of 2022.
“We’ve basically started a farm from scratch this year,” says Caitlin Powell, a student in the inaugural program. “I’ve learned a lot. I would love to do this myself, and I feel like I have the skills to do it now.”
Here’s an inside look at how the program helps young farmers like Powell become poised for success.
Video courtesy of CWC.