Growing Growers ICT

About the program

Fruit and vegetable production education for all types of growers

Our Vision

The Growing Growers Learning Network is a program for aspiring fruit and vegetable producers who desire a personalized coaching experience to learn foundational concepts and connect to the local grower community, helping them develop profitable farms and effective garden projects.

Whether you want to start a farm business to sell produce at farmers markets, or you want to develop a garden for your organization or community, through Growing Growers you will increase your knowledge on critical farming basics, build your skills through hands-on learning experiences, and connect with other growers – both established and aspiring. Growing Growers focuses on the production of what the USDA defines as specialty crops – fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, honey, and more – as opposed to commodity crops and livestock. To learn more about specialty crops, click here.

On valuing diversity and hospitality:

One important value of the Growing Growers program is to create a space that is hospitable to all kinds of specialty crop growers, both existing and aspiring. Here in the greater Wichita area, we face unique challenges in building educational grower programs, and as such, we want to maintain and uplift the important differences that create the diverse range of growers in our region, while also providing quality educational opportunities for all such farmers. As a participant in the program, you are invited into a civil discourse around these differences with others; showing respect and conversing with charity help us facilitate this hospitable environment. Without as many voices at the table as possible, we risk the possibility of becoming a homogenized echo chamber, unable to see beyond ourselves and move our organization forward. Your presence, your experience, and your uniqueness matter a great deal to us.

How to get involved

Getting involved is simple.

  1. Fill out an initial contact form (click here)

(This gives us some demographic information and background about your project idea or goals. Then you’ll receive an email about the next step.)

  1. Complete the introductory module

(This has 3 short videos to watch, some questions to help us gauge more specifics about your idea, and an accompanying worksheet to help flesh out and plan your idea. Once you’ve completed it, we’ll reach out to start step 3.)

3. Schedule a time with us to meet one-on-one

(We’ll discuss which of the program’s opportunities will best meet your needs and help you reach your goals, as well as the module worksheet.)

Not sure if Growing Growers is right for you? Just fill out the super quick interest form! We’ll help you determine if our program is right for you, and if so, how best for you to get involved.

If you already know you are interested in an apprenticeship position, you can browse our list of host farms to get a glimpse of who might be the best fit for you. Apprenticeships are the biggest way to participate in Growing Growers – you’ll be paired with a host farmer to gain hands-on work experience and mentorship in addition to attending our workshops and learning activities. Learn more about apprenticeships here.

Who can participate

The Growing Growers Learning Network is open to participants from all backgrounds, skills, ages, and income levels.

Our workshops and other learning opportunities are open to everyone interested in learning more about specialty crop farm operations, whether starting a farm is a pipe dream or you’re a seasoned farming veteran and want a refresher.

Apprentices should be 18 years or older, but are otherwise open to anyone from a fresh high school graduate to someone looking for a retirement gig. Learn more about apprenticeships here.

Home gardening is great, but Growing Growers aims to help those who want to start farm businesses or community-oriented garden projects. There are other resources for those interested in backyard gardening – learn about those here.

Scope, funding, and administration

The Growing Growers ICT Learning Network serves all of south-central Kansas, not just Sedgwick County, although it is operated out of the K-State Research and Education office in Sedgwick County. The program is funded through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, which is administered by the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Our program is modeled after the successful Growing Growers Kansas City, but is independently funded and managed.

 

Questions?

Contact Lyndsay Feather, program manager:

(316) 660-0145 | lfeather@k-state.edu