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NC State Extension

Resources for New and Aspiring Farmers

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The best way to learn how to farm is to gain hands-on experience by working on a farm, participating in an internship or apprenticeship program, or leasing land on a farm incubator. If you are not able to do that at this time in your life, consider visiting as many farms as you can on farm tours. In addition, workshops, conferences, farm schools, and short courses can also provide valuable information, perspective, and resources to ground the development of your farm aspirations. Here is a farming self assessment that you can use to gauge where you are in the farm start-up process.

Although it is exciting to think about starting a farm, farming is hard work and it’s often easier in theory than it is in practice. That said, if you’re committed, persistent, and patient, building a small farm from the ground-up can be achievable and rewarding. Below are some NC State Extension programs for beginning farmers, as well as programs from some of our partner organizations.

NC Farm School

A program of NC State Extension, North Carolina Farm School (NCFS) is a business planning program for aspiring, new, or transitioning farmers. N.C. Cooperative Extension agents, farmers, and university specialists play a key role in advising the work of NCFS in the state and providing guidance for the program. Starting a farm should be a strategic process and knowing what to do first and where to apply your time is important. We help you by investing intentional time and support to help you develop your ideas and take the next step. NC Farm School is a think-plan-do program.

NC Small Farm Bootcamp

Whereas NC Farm School focuses more on strategic and business planning for farms, with the goal of creating a business plan, NC Small Farm Bootcamp focuses more on-farm production methods. The program has several different modules, including soil science, integrated pest management, and post-harvest handling, as well as other specialty modules.

NC Farm Planning Portal

The NC Farm Planning Website is a one-stop-shop for information on starting a farm, with information on a variety of tax and cost-share programs as well as regulations you should consider when planning your farm.

Other Resources

Farm Employment

NC FarmLink

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Labor Link

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Job Board


Center for Environmental Farming Systems Apprenticeships

ATTRA Internship Listing (Filter by state)


Value of Mentorships for Early-Career Farmers (web article)

Organic Growers School Mentor Services

Incubator Farms in NC

In partnership with the NC Local Food Program Team, NC FarmLink conducted surveys and interviews with farm incubator programs across North Carolina throughout 2023-2024. The results have been published in a farm incubator document for farmers, aspiring farmers, and those considering starting an incubator program. Incubator programs are diverse in their mission, goals, funding, structure, and capacity. We believe there is something to be learned from the wonderful incubator programs in this document, and they prove that incubator programs are not one-size-fits-all. For those interested in working with one of the farms or to learn more, you can contact each farm directly or contact us for general questions at

Incubator Farms in NC

Farm Incubators List

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Lomax Farm Concord NC

Breeze Farm Orange County NC

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Asheville, NC

Good Hope Farm Cary, NC

Patterson School Foundation Incubator Program Caldwell County, NC

Golden Organic Farm Pinetops, NC

Piedmont Community College Caswell County, NC

MICDC Incubator Forsyth County, NC

FIG Farm Boone, NC

Veterans Farm of NC Cameron, NC

Foothill Conservancy Incubator- Morganton, NC

Farm Schools

NC Farm School

Organic Growers School – Farm Beginnings

Appalachian Farm School

Community Colleges: Many NC Community Colleges offer agriculture courses and degrees.

NC Ag Institute: A two-year degree program through NC State University with many different majors and concentrations.

Workshops & Conferences

Check N.C. Cooperative Extension for events near you.

ASAP Business of Farming Conference

Center for Environmental Farming Systems Lunch and Learns

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Event List

Farm Tours

ASAP Farm Tour (ASAP)

Piedmont Farm Tour (CFSA)