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South Centers

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


New program to help train Ohio minority and socially disadvantaged farmers

By Brad Bergefurd, The Ohio State University 
Dr. Siddhartha Dasgupta, Central State University
and Dr. Alcinda Folck, Central State University  

The lack of affordable and good quality farmland is a major barrier for many socially disadvantaged people to adopt farming as an occupation. For many minorities and socially disadvantaged farmers, to expand their farms and manage their cropland, they need to have educational opportunities to increase their farming knowledge and experiences. 

Two grants, one for training new farmers and another for improving the farming practices of experienced farmers, will build viability of socially disadvantaged farms in Ohio by providing learning opportunities and training using outreach, technical assistance, and USDA programs.  

Brad Bergefurd of The Ohio State University South Centers is a collaborator with Central State University Extension, which is the lead University on this USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant-funded project titled “Fastrack Farming: A training program for socially disadvantaged and military veteran beginning farmers during the COVID 19 pandemic” and the USDA Office of Partnership and Public Engagement’s 2501 program grant titled “Building viability of socially disadvantaged farms in Ohio using outreach, technical assistance, and USDA programs.”

The goals of these projects are to train new and experienced socially disadvantaged beginning farmers with the knowledge and skills to start farming profitably by using workshops, incubator farms, mentors, and Extension outreach. Trainings will include farmland access, USDA farmer programs, plasticulture production, hydroponics, specialty crops, hemp, and beekeeping; marketing systems, food safety, farm safety, and farm/financial/risk management. It is anticipated that these newly trained beginning farmers will start farming, while the experienced beginning farmers will improve their current farm plans. 

Bergefurd, a Specialty Crops Specialist, serves as the specialty crop mentor for the project. In this role he will provide technical assistance and hands-on education and training to the enrolled farmers on production, marketing, and crop management topics related to production of vegetables and small fruits such as strawberries. He will encourage farmers to network with each other and not operate in regional isolation. He will also share his specialty crop  knowledge and provide direction for new farmers and youth participating in agricultural entrepreneurships in Cincinnati and Toledo.

For more information or how to become involved in this new minority and socially disadvantaged farmer training program contact Brad Bergefurd, leader of the South Centers Specialty Crops Program at or Program Leader,  Dr. Siddhartha Dasgupta, at, or Dr. Alcinda Folck at