Wallace State’s Small Farmer Training program offering 6 scholarships for 2019 sessions

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Travis Kress

HANCEVILLE – Wallace State’s Small Farmer Training is ready to grow abundantly during the Spring 2019 semester.

The Small Farmer Training program, one of the newest on campus, is offering six scholarships, totaling $1,000 each. The certification is divided into four different sessions or growing seasons and includes day and night-time classes. The program begins on March 18 and concludes on Nov. 7.

After completing the course, assessments can be taken to receive college credit hours that can be applied toward an associate’s degree in Horticulture.

“I can’t wait for these scholarships to help students, and I believe this program will skyrocket because of it,” said Farm Manager Instructor Travis Kress, 30. “We’ve set the program up to be flexible. An individual can continue on if they’re seeking a degree or they can get the knowledge, earn the certification and go out and make money on the farm.”

Wallace State’s Small Farmer Training program is designed to prepare students to begin and operate their own farms or to serve as a farm manager of an existing farm. It offers a better understanding of farm operations to work in non-profits or farmer assistance and promotion organizations.

Topics included in the curriculum include soil and fertility management, vegetable and fruit production, herb production, crop planning and scheduling, harvest and post-harvest handling and food safety, transplant production, high tunnel production, direct and wholesale marketing, developing a business plan, enterprise budgeting, equipment usage and maintenance, pest management, chemical handling and application, irrigation, crop rotations and farm specific financials.

“I’m looking forward to covering everything from how to drive a tractor and the bare basics of farming to discussing the marketing part and the different cropping systems. The farming part is the easy part. Getting out and selling the product can be challenging. It’s not hard to grow squash. You can be the hardest-working person out there and have the prettiest squash, but until someone gives you money for it, it can be wasted effort,” Kress said.

Kress, a Cullman High graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and soils at Auburn University in 2011 after earning an associate degree Wallace State.

He is a fifth-generation farmer, growing his own fruits and vegetables each year.

Scholarships to the program will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The scholarships are awarded in $250 increments each season, covering half the cost of the program.

The program is open to the entire public, including high school graduates looking to begin farming, those seeking a second career or different path, gardeners seeking a more in-depth program, those looking to create a hobby farm, and anyone interested in a better understanding of fruit and vegetable production.

Classes will feature both traditional classroom lecture and lab time.

To apply for the scholarships, visit www.wsccfuturefoundation.org/s/1520/2016/interior.aspx?sid=1520&gid=1&pgid=332

For more information about the program, contact Kress at 256-352-8115 or email him at travis.kress@wallacestate.edu.

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.