Our Simply Organic 1% Fund contributes to the Farmer Starter program of Farmshare Austin, a non-profit agricultural group in Central Texas. Farmshare Austin's vision is to create resilient local food economies that provide farmers with livable incomes, value the resources needed to farm, and ensure organic food access.
They have initiatives to protect the environmental resources required for farming and improve the availability of healthy, sustainably produced food. (The group improves food access through community farm stands, its own mobile farmer's markets and participation in the Sustainable Food Center’s Farmer’s Market.)
They are also increasing the number of organic farmers through community classes and their Farmer Starter Program.
The Farmer Starter program provides aspiring farmers with the essential skills they need to manage a sustainable farming business.
The program has both hands-on, in-field training and formal classroom education. It provides practical experience in organic and sustainable growing methods as well as teaching students the business and financial planning skills necessary to establish a successful market farm. It includes four and a half months of intensive in-field training on a seven-acre organic farm, cooperative responsibility to supply produce for a 60-member CSA, and 180 hours of formal educational time. Students live onsite in tents during the program.
So far, everyone who has completed the program has gone into agriculture. For example, they've started urban gardens in New York, returned to their family farms, and, in one case, pursued sustainable agriculture in New Zealand. The current group of students seems to share that same level of commitment to Farmshare Austin's goals of increasing the production and accessibility of sustainable foods.