The new Forsyth Tech facility in the Meadows community accepted a $50,000 grant from the Tobacco Trust Fund on Thursday to help fund the agriculture training center intended for current farmers and young people with a love of farming who want to continue the agriculture tradition in Stokes County.
“With this grant we’re able to start creating an infrastructure that we need to be able to provide classes. It’s not just going to be where they come in and sit in a classroom and talk about farming. We’re going to be able to get our hands in there and bring in animals, grow vegetables and really learn how it all works,” explained Forsyth Tech’s Sally Elliott.
Forsyth Tech already has plans to begin offering courses such as sustainable farming techniques, animal care, marketing and agricultural entrepreneurship and is open to developing more of what sparks the interest of local farmers.
“One of the things we’ve done is create a survey for our farmers and said tell us what you want us to teach. We’ll do our very best to make sure we offer that. We had our first inaugural class sponsored by this grant last month. It was our second annual farm health and safety institute and we had 15 farmers come out and participate in that,” Elliott said.
William Upchurch, Executive Director of Tobacco Trust Fund presented the $50,000 check to the Forsyth Tech Advisory Council and believes the funds will be put to good use.
“I think this project is incredible. One, it’s in a proper location where you have a very versified mix of agriculture. You have older people that are looking for opportunities to transition to and you have young people who are needing educational opportunities and hands on experience to get involved in agriculture. Pending the outcome, I think it’s something we can replicate in other counties,” he said.
The Tobacco Trust Fund was formed back in 2001 as a way to help agriculture keep moving forward in the state.
“I applaud what you’re doing here at this location. I understand what you’re trying to do because you have farmers that have dedicated their lives to being on their land to produce and make money for their family and create income in the community. Now, they’re having to find new opportunities,” Upchurch said. “We have to bring that new generation along.”
In a competitive grant process, Upchurch said Forsyth Tech’s application conveyed their passion for local agriculture growth.
“We receive a lot of accolades for providing money, but it’s takes a lot of effort and hard work behind the scenes to pull it all together. It gives me great pleasure on behalf of our 18 member board of directors to officially present the check,” he said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.