Fellows Earn Urban Farming Certification

Fellows Earn Urban Farming Certification

Fellows Earn Urban Farming Certification

Alex Badecker was one of nine people earning certificates in urban agriculture December 12, 2017, as part of the Tricycle Urban Ag Fellowship program.

TAMMIE SMITH/TIMES-DISPATCH

Urban farming nonprofit Tricycle last week graduated the first class of students to complete its 11-month fellowship program in urban agriculture.

The nine people received certificates in urban agriculture endorsed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

A number of the students plan to operate or already operate small farming operations. The training emphasized urban farming practices and management, said Beth Nelson, fellowship program manager.

The students spent 15 to 20 hours a week in training — hands-on in the field and in the classroom where topics included holistic business planning, farm business plan development, financial projections and cash flow, record keeping and decision-making for farm profitability.

“My goal is to sell to restaurants and farmers markets,” said Alex Badecker, who grows asparagus, sweet potatoes and other produce part time on an approximately 6,000-square-foot plot in Henrico County.

The others receiving certificates in urban agriculture were Sonia Allen, Kamala Bhagat, Nicole Broder, Ash Carr, Mark Davis, Kittie Storey, Dana Wright and Mandy Yarnell.

Broder said she wants to start a rooftop farm. Carr is planning a farm that will produce medicinal herbs and seeds.

Storey wants to be a small grower. “Keeping food in our local system is a big part of educating the public about where their food comes from,” Storey said.

Davis said “Tricycle and the fellowship have been one of the most powerful experiences” of his life.

The training was presented in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Bon Secours Richmond Health System. Last week’s ceremony was held at the Bon Secours Center for Healthy Living at 2600 Nine Mile Road.

Nonprofit Tricycle is recruiting for the next class of fellows, which will start in March.

For more information, go to tricycleurbanag.org. Application deadline is Jan. 19, and the fellowship runs from March to December. Scholarships are available, and there are information sessions in December and January for those who want to learn more.

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