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On the farm

Grants available for farmers

Applications are now being accepted for the WNC Agricultural Options Grant, which will distribute a total of $216,000 to Western North Carolina farmers in 2021. 

Applicants are encouraged to participate in information sessions to be held via Zoom at noon Thursday, Sept. 24, and 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6. The application deadline is Nov. 20, and applicants must contact their cooperative extension agents by Oct. 23 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers’ risk of trying new ventures and expanding their farms by offering grants of $3,000 and $6,000 in the 21 western counties and the Qualla Boundary. 

Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has distributed more than $3 million to WNC farmers to help them diversify their operations. Returns on initial investments are often immediate, as new income typically matches the size of the grants in the first year of the projects. Income continues to increase year after year, often doubling by the third year of the projects.

Applications and registration for Zoom sessions are available at or at county extension centers.


Paid apprenticeship teach agribusiness skills

An apprenticeship program training participants in various aspects of sustainable agriculture and agribusiness, is now seeking applicants. 

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems Food and Farm Apprenticeship Program focuses on hands-on work and study during eight-to-12-week appointments in Jackson, Haywood, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, Graham and Clay counties. 

Apprenticeships are for college students, who will be paid $12 per hour through the N.C. State University payroll system. The available positions include opportunities to make mead and honey, grow plants from seed to maturity, work on an alpaca farm, grow food crops, work at a creamery, care for cattle and tend fruit orchards, among other skills. 

To apply, visit

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