Central State University teaches new farmers how to get started

The Beginning Farmer Program was created, in part, to help new farmers overcome some of the most common obstacles when starting a farming business. The USDA grant will fund incubator farms and farmers’ markets in underserved communities in the Dayton area, depending on the university.

Two incubator farms are already in operation, one in the Edgemont neighborhood in Dayton and one in Trotwood. The program has about 50 participants.

Cindy Folck, extension program manager, said it was also about encouraging healthier eating in communities with limited access to fresh produce.

In addition to teaching farming skills, CSU faculty members will provide nutrition education and cooking classes to help families cook healthier meals with the vegetables grown on the incubator farms, Folck said.

Omope Carter Daboiku, the farm manager at Edgemont Solar Garden – which hosts one of the incubator farms – said part of the program is to reclaim farming tradition, especially among people of color.

“It also revitalizes the community,” Daboiku said. “As people drive by and see the farmer’s market that we started a few weeks ago and see things growing in the landscape and see cars in the parking lot, people come out of the streets and say, ‘wow, what are you all doing?

The grant is for three years. Folck said the plan is to eventually expand the program statewide. The hope is that by the end of the program, he will have built a stronger local community around food in Dayton.

Food journalist Alejandro Figueroa is a member of the body with Report for Americaa national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

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