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New and aspiring farmers will have an opportunity to visit a diverse group of Indiana farms, network with fellow farmers, and learn from experts in a series of workshops and tours offered as part of Purdue University's Beginning Farmer and Rancher program.

The series, sponsored by Purdue Extension and the Local Growers Guild, begins in August and includes stops throughout the state.

The schedule:

* Aug. 18: Redbud Farm, home of Caprini Creamery, Spiceland. During the morning workshop session, experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Soil and Water Conservation District and Purdue Extension will discuss the resources and support services available to new farmers. In the afternoon, participants will tour of one of Indiana's leading producers of goat cheese. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

* Sept. 8: Growing Places Indy, Indianapolis. The morning session will be held at the Purdue Extension Marion County office, where discussion will focus on ways to develop an urban farm and how to build community partnerships with local businesses and organizations. After lunch, participants will tour Growing Places Indy, a 10,000 square-foot "U-Pick" urban farm. Lunch will be provided.

* Sept. 14: Morning Harvest, Palmyra and Hardinsburg. During the morning session, participants will learn how to develop local markets for their produce, including marketing to institutions such as hospitals and schools. Following lunch, participants will tour the Morning Harvest Farm and learn how the operators developed their own hydroponic system to grow lettuce, herbs, strawberries and other produce, and how they tapped into several local markets to sell their produce. Lunch will be provided.

* Oct. 11: WE Farm, Owen County. The morning session will be held at the Owen County Fairgrounds with discussion focusing on the benefits and challenges of having interns work on your farm. After lunch, transportation will be provided to WE farm, where participants will learn how the operators developed their grass-fed beef, pastured pork and egg operation. Lunch will be provided.

* Nov. 7: Perkins' Good Earth Farm, DeMotte. Perkins' Good Earth Farm uses cover crops, organic inputs, and minimum tillage to deliver high quality produce to their customers while improving their soil. The morning session, which will take place at the Demotte Public Library, will focus on soil health and the use of cover crops. After lunch, participants will visit Perkins' Good Earth Farm to see and discuss cover crops, vegetables, and high tunnel production. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

The workshop/tour events are free, but registration is required and space is limited. To sign up, go https://edustore.purdue.edu/wk_group.asp?wk_group=BeginFarmer.

For more information, contact Tamara Benjamin at 765-496-1930 or tamara17@purdue.edu. Short video introductions for each tour stop are available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtXSf1tu3Jd-rrTbDIb1L1SEUQx8XyO39.

Purdue's Beginning Farmer and Rancher program, launched this year, was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase the number of farm start-ups in the state and provide direct, practical assistance to anyone who is new to farming, especially operators of small farms and military veterans. 

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