Nebraska Extension is planning its 9th Farm Beginnings® Program at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at 5985 G Road Nebraska City, NE  68410 for January, 2018. Plans are being made for Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society to facilitate the Farm Beginnings® Program to be held in Nebraska City.  The Farm Beginnings® Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise.  Farm Beginnings® participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers; attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences.  The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining firsthand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation.  While this isn’t a program for someone wanting to get into conventional farming, it is a program that has attracted several people interested in farming on a smaller scale, some who have migrated out from urban to rural areas.


One past participant in the class said, “This program had a huge impact.  I have improved my business plan, my overall efficiency and continue to try new ideas I thought to not be possible.”  Any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions.  Most of the farmers that present come from small to medium sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products.  Many of these farmers direct market their products.


The Farm Beginnings® Program consists of a series of 11 sessions from January through April that cover a variety of topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management.  While the class participants will learn firsthand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course.  As part of the class tuition, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference in 2018 to be held this winter.  This is a conference that has been held annually for a number of years and has sessions that focus on topics in sustainable agriculture, such as: vegetable production, grass-fed beef, pasture poultry, meat and dairy goat production, composting, cover crops, organic farming, growing crops in high-tunnels, bee keeping, farm transitioning and agri-tourism.  We also schedule farm tours early in the course and tour several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating.  If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.

Cattle West Blue Farm

chickens West Blue
” Following the classroom portion of Farm Beginnings®, the class tours several farms that produce local food or organic products, i.e. alfalfa, corn, soybeans, milk, cheese, eggs and honey.  These are photos of West Blue Farm where Dave and Deb Welsch practice mob grazing and direct market beef and poultry.  Dave has been a presenter with our Farm Beginnings® programs for several years, teaching about the importance of financial management and managing cash flow on their farm.
“We tour Ralph Tate’s Grass Farm near Fairbury, NE. where he mob grazes cattle through his pastures. Ralph has also utilized cover crops as he transitioned some row crop land into grassland for his operation. Ralph participated in our first Farm Beginnings classes in 2005-6.  He then became a certified Holistic Management Instructor  & teaches the Holistic Management portion & a session on Financial Management as well in the class (see Farm Beginnings Agenda).

Participants of this course may be interested in becoming involved with growing alternative crops, producing fruits and vegetables for direct sale to consumers, grocery stores or restaurants.  Others may be interested in growing livestock for direct marketing.  This is an opportunity for people interested in learning about this type of farming from farmers that are doing it and making a living at it.


” Two regular presenters at Farm Beginnings are Travis Dunekacke from T D Niche Pork and Paul Rohrbaugh from Pawnee Pride Meats.  Travis produces and markets heritage breed swine to several restaurants in the Lincoln and Omaha urban area of southeast Nebraska.  He has built relationships with chefs at these restaurants which has taken a long time.  Paul Rohrbaugh has pasture raised poultry and grass-fed beef he direct markets to consumers. We tour Travis’s and Paul’s farms regularly following the Farm Beginnings class (see photos above).
“Another regular presenter and tour stop for the Farm Beginnings® class is Common Good Farm; Ruth Chantry and Evrett Lundquist’s  Organic and Biodynamic Farm near Raymond, NE. They sell at area farmer’s markets, off of their farm and also have a CSA. They produce and market locally many types of vegetables, eggs, honey, beef, pork and starter plants. They explain the challenges and intricacies of their vary diversified operation during our class.

We also provide for the class participants the SARE resource, “Building a Sustainable Business and the MOSES publication, “Fearless Farm Finances”.  We also provide a number of SARE resources and Farm Beginnings® exercises and references.  Toward the end of the class we have previous Farm Beginnings®  graduates give presentations about their farming operations.  The final classroom session highlights what each of the farms participating in the class plan for their farms.

Previous Farm Beginnings® graduate Gary Fehr from “Green School Farm” is growing vegetables, selling them locally and has a small CSA in the Lincoln area.  The above photo is from his farm. His farm was also highlighted in a previous blog.  It can be found at: .

Cost of the total program is $500, but you may qualify for a partial scholarship for up to $200.   For more information, a brochure for the Farm Beginnings® Program  or an application go to our website at For more information about the program you can also contact Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator at or at (402) 274-4755, Nebraska Extension in Nemaha County.


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