California Farm Academy
We Grow Farmers.
When I decided I was going to move home to farm, my parents asked me to attend a program called California Farm academy. It ran from February to September and it was jam packed with amazing information. CFA became a family. We learned about each other’s goals and dreams for our future in agriculture. We met every Tuesday, Thursday, and one Saturday a month. At the time the program was ran by Jennifer Taylor and Maureen Thompson.
For the most part we spent every Tuesday in a classroom setting, every Thursday in the field, and Saturdays were for field trips. We started class in the green house. We learned everything we needed to know about starting seeds in a green house. Together we planted hundreds of seeds of all different crops. We learned about the importance of cover crops and nutrient management.
Later we learned how to transplant what we had started in the green house, into the field. We worked on making the goals for our own farm and figure out what our vision really was. We studied crop planning, and how to keep production records. We had an extremely diverse crop. We grew leafy greens, melons, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, and a ton of flowers.
We worked as a team to grow a beautiful crop. We were an organic farm so we pulled weeds together and cared for the crop together. We harvested together and enjoyed fresh food together. The majority of our crop went to a local food bank which was extremely rewarding. We became a family out in that dirt.
But like I said, working in the field was really only about half the classes. If it had to do with farming, we learned about it. A few things we learned about were
- Business Management
- Food Safety
- Poultry & Livestock
- Soil types
- Water management
- Weeds, Pests, and Diseases
- Farm Machinery
AND SO MUCH MORE!!!
It was insane the amount of information we learned.
My favorite class was when we got to go to UC Davis and learn about their bees! Bees are so amazing and I highly recommend you learn about them!
The only “homework” for the course was a business plan. Using the tools we learned throughout the class we were to write a business plan for whatever our farming dreams were. This is what really made CFA so important for my journey. This forced me to explore crop options and to make a decision. Coming from a row crop farm, I was very intrigued by permanent crops, and the idea of only planting once every 30 years. A few different crops I looked into were almonds, walnuts, hops, and wine grapes. I quickly narrowed it down to walnuts and grapes due to the lack of almonds and hops in the Sacramento Delta. I knew as a beginning farmer I needed to have mentors, I needed to have farmers I could call to ask for advice. After bouncing back and forth for a bit, I landed on wine grapes. They were really exploding in the Delta region, with no signs of wine going out of style. And not being far from Clarksburg or Lodi, I knew I would be able to make connection with other grape farmers.
Once I made the decision to write my business plan on wine grapes, it was go time. I started to reach out to grape growers in the area and was even able to make some connections with local wineries. I was very fortunate to have so many farmers being willing to help me. I was even able to see a development budget as well as a long-term budget. Along with the information a gained from farmers, and some studies from UC Davis on vineyard development, I was able to put together a 20-page business plan. I felt so accomplished when I finished my farm plan. It was the beginning of what was going to become my farm life journey.
At the end of the program I presented my business plan to successful farmers and a banker. I was able to receive feedback that helped me build the confidence that I would be able to present this to a loan officer one day. CFA and this plan became the very first stepping stone to the journey I have done thus farm. I will be forever grateful for the wonderful experience I had at California Farm Academy.
I do not own the rights to this video. It's a great video on CFA I found on YouTube!