rotating USDA Kerr Center Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative Rural Smallholders Association Oklahoma State University Extension Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association

Oklahoma Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program

Course Topics

Workshops will include presentations, discussion, and demonstration of important techniques and equipment. Students will be connected via webinar for some of the sessions and videos and complete course materials will be available online at


The 2014 Beginning Farmer horticulture training program will concentrate on small-to-intermediate scale market gardening, with a specific focus on vegetable crops for both fresh produce and seed crop sales.  Organic production will be emphasized, though most of the information and techniques to be covered are appropriate for conventional management as well. 

Topics will include business and field planning, acquisition of supplies, organic certification, ground preparation and fertility management, irrigation, weed and pest control, harvest and post-harvest handling, and marketing. 

The training will be balanced between classroom education, field demonstrations, and hands-on activities.  This program is intended primarily for those with little or no experience in growing horticultural crops. 


The livestock track for the 2014 Beginning Farmer and Rancher program will have three full day workshops and one half day workshop.

The first workshop (March 15th) will address the importance of grazing management as it relates to the productivity of forage and livestock. We will look at designing a controlled grazing system that promotes healthy plants and increases forage utilization. Topics will include water development, the importance of livestock shade, and the use of permanent and temporary electric fence.

The second workshop (April 5th) will take place at Dr. David Sparks ranch near Porum, OK. He will address all aspects of small ruminant management. Dr. Sparks is employed by OSU extension, and, along with his wife, runs both goats and cattle on their ranch.
The third workshop (June 21st) will address the basics of forage growth and soil fertility. Also, this workshop will focus on pasture plant identification. The last workshop (Aug. 16) will be a half day session addressing agroforestry, forestry, and riparian management.

Planning for Success

Business planning will be a component of both tracks and will introduce the basic concepts of a business plan. Students will develop a simple plan during the course of the class. The plan will cover goal setting, marketing, operations, human resources, and finances.

The business planning will take place in the first class. A short follow up training will be included in the first livestock and horticulture programs to focus on business planning concepts unique to the different tracks.

Kerr Center specialists will lead the Saturday workshops. Guest speakers will also be an important part of the sessions. Instructors have expertise in agronomy, animal science, agricultural economics, horticulture, natural resource management and organic production and certification.


More Information:


This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-49400-30525 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


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