Oct. 16, 2012. Want to be a farmer but don’t have land or equipment? The Farm Incubator and Grower (FIG) program run by Maverick Farms and ASU’s Sustainable Development program, is seeking applications for the 2013 growing season.
More information and the application can be found at www.fig-farm.com
FIG is a project of Maverick Farms, a non-profit educational farm dedicated to promoting family farming as a community resource and expanding access to healthy food by reconnecting local food networks in the High Country of North Carolina.
FIG represents the the next step in fulfilling Maverick’s mission of bolstering the local-food economy and making local food economically viable for farmers and accessible to low-income consumers.
After Maverick Farms started the area’s first CSA in 2005, we opened the CSA to the area’s other small-scale vegetable farms, launching High Country CSA, which now supplies produce from 18 farms to 100 local families in the summer, and has over 250 consumers in the winter pre-order program. In 2012, HC-CSA piloted its first year of a cost-share program, which reduces the cost of the CSA program by two-thirds for EBT/SNAP users.
FIG represents the the next step in fulfilling Maverick’s mission of bolstering the local-food economy and making local food economically viable for farmers and accessible to low-income consumers. With HC-CSA, Maverick developed a scalable market suited to new vegetable farmers. FIG will create a community-based incubator farm designed to train and equip a new generation of farmers who can revive the High Country’s agricultural economy and provide a bounty of healthy food to the region. The project is a collaboration between Maverick Farms and the Sustainable Development program of Appalachian State University, both based in Watauga County. Working on a 12-acre plot of land under long-term conservation easement, the partnership will provide upto six landless farmers access to the resources necessary to launch a successful farm business.
FIG is a multi-tiered support program to help farmers establish lasting enterprises on the FIG Farm and move into long-term land arrangements elsewhere. A typical FIG farmer will be someone who has completed some form of apprenticeship, is ready to start their own farm business, and has demonstrated the desire to make farming in the High Country their vocation.
FIG will be open to new applicants September-November and will work hard to select beginning farmers who are ready to start their own farm enterprise at the start of the following year. Selected FIG farmers will have the option to lease small parcels of land from the agricultural commons, at a subsidized rate, based on the approval of a viable farm business plan.
FIG will use the model of “incubator farms” (years one through three), “enterprise farms” (years three to five) and “mentor farms” (years five plus), to give greater support to enterprises during the early stage and phased-out support as the enterprise matures. While growing at the FIG Farm, the FIG farmer is responsible for meeting all costs, will keep all profits, and will also have access to shared facilities and equipment.
The FIG Farm is on Valle Crucis Conference Center property at the site of the former ASU Teaching Farm. The site currently has a barn, a greenhouse, and a creek. FIG plans to establish a washing, packing, cooling, and freezing facility onsite for shared use among incubator, enterprise and mentor farmers.