Program Offers Younger Potential Farmers Chance To Learn Trade

YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — The future of farming in the Sacramento region looks barren with the current crop of farmers getting closer to retirement.

The potential shortage comes as more restaurants make it a mission to buy local.

Jason Cuff is already planting a seed to be a farmer. He’s reinventing himself to do what he loves, but he never thought he’d get to live out his dream on the land.

“Everyone had always said, ‘Don’t go into farming, ’cause you’ll never make a living and it’s too expensive. It’s too much work.’”

Rich Rominger, a semi-retired farmer and former deputy secretary of agriculture to President Bill Clinton, says many don’t get into the field because it’s too expensive.

“The concern is the average age of farmers in this county is 58, and we’ve got more farmers over the age of 65 than under 35.”

But the Center For Land-Based Learning is trying to change that by teaching practical classes to grow the next generation of future farmers.

“They are learning about soils. They are learning about composting. They are learning about production practices and pest management, and most importantly they are learning about marketing,” said Mary Kimball.

The center started the academy last year and so far have graduated and 17 of them are already farming.

And he demand in the Sacramento Valley only continues to grow as more restaurants like Lucca want to buy local.

“Just being in Sacramento, it would be silly not to buy from local farmers,” said chef Ian MacBride.

The academy program lasts nine months and is designed for a working man or woman, so that they can attend classes in the late afternoons and weekends.

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