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Young Wisconsinites Attracted to Organic Farming

April 23, 2012

SPRING VALLEY, Wis. - Young Wisconsinites are being attracted in ever-increasing numbers to organic farming. The proliferation of farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture, and high demand for more organic products, has created a need for more organic farmers.

Joe Pedretti, organic education specialist with MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service), says it's no surprise the younger people are choosing organic, rather than conventional farming.

"They're certainly part of the same movement of wanting to know where their food comes from, so it becomes a real natural fit for younger farmers and beginners to gravitate towards that market; it fits in with their philosophical beliefs."

In response to the demand for more organic foods, MOSES has created a number of programs designed specifically to help young organic farmers learn the business, with classroom sessions and field days to give hands-on experience. Another big change is that these days, many young farmers did not grow up on a farm, and have a real need for education in the profession.

Pedretti says the first step in helping young people learn organic farming is academic, but then MOSES helps them transition to hands-on mentoring.

"We've developed this mentoring program as that second step, to take some of that knowledge they've learned from books and from workshops and actually show it in real life. Here's the applied way to take these concepts and make them work."

Working side-by-side with an experienced farmer helps young farmers learn practical, real-world lessons about successful farming practices, marketing their products, and finance. Pedretti says it's not unusual to have to deal with some misconceptions early on.

"Farming from a distance looks idyllic and utopian. You're your own boss, you're working outside and you're working with plants, you're working with animals - it all seems rather idyllic. But the honest truth of it is, it is a business, and it's a hard business."

This year's lineup of workshops and field days can be found at
www.mosesorganic.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI