The Cultivating Farmers and Ranchers that Thrive (CFRT) Program is accepting applications for their 2024 Cohort. CFRT provides beginning farmers and ranchers the opportunity to learn and develop their skills to become food and product providers with education, business training, mentorship, and land access.
The Valley Food Partnership works with partner organizations like Holistic Management International to teach and create a strong foundation of support for beginning farmers and ranchers through Holistic Management core curriculum classes, seasonal continuing education classes, and hands-on learning. They also collaborate with a Farmer Rancher Advisory Team, a group of experienced farmers and ranchers, to build and grow the program according to lived experience and maximum benefit for the participants.
CFRT is committed to helping Hispanic, low-income, veterans, and specialty crop producers find a place in agriculture. The 11-month course is valued at $7000 but is currently available for just $150 through a USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher Grant. Veterans can participate in the program for free through assistance from VFW and other scholarships are available!
Find the course syllabus and application on the Valley Food Partnership website under programs and apply by January 31st!
Experience of Previous Participants
Evaluations from the 18 farmers and ranchers who had completed the training shows the value these participants got from the program. Some of the outcomes the participants experienced as a result of this program were:
- We were able to produce more forage/hay and differentiate what we grew from other hay crops around our immediate area. Also with no till, there’s less equipment and fuel costs which makes room for higher profits.
- We now have a clear business plan and framework for how to move forward with our dairy and berry operations.
- Increased confidence in the use of Holistic Management practices can be good for the soil and for business.
- The program helped us think through the economics of the land we are on.
- Didn’t spray and used minimal fertilizer (about 1/2 of what was used prior to our involvement)
- We are beginning to work on a Holistic Management plan for rotational grazing at the dairy in Steamboat.
- Increased awareness of weeds and weed management (what, why) and the efficient use of irrigation water by understanding the pros and cons of different irrigation systems.
- We were able to improve the soil.
- They introduced the concept of no-till drill which I was previously not aware of. Also, they educated us about effective water management which we will try to implement in upcoming years.
- Connected me with more people like me, the CFRT cohort. and helped me grow out of my shy shell
- More farmers and ranchers to talk to, get ideas from & get feedback, and understand the variety of what could be grown in the Uncompahgre Valley
- We learned a lot about interpersonal dynamics and how to better include everyone in decision making processes. Still a lot to learn!
- This class helped me define more focused goals and determine realistic and specific steps that I can take to reach those goals. When I started, I was unsure how to get from nothing to something.
- We made new friendships with people who are interested in farming & ranching.
- They put us in contact with many people in the Montrose community that are in farming and ranching and can serve as resources.
Cultivating Farmers and Ranchers that Thrive is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Award # 2021-70033-35702.