Jan 3, 2013

FVCC Offers New Multifunctional Agriculture Course

With increased development and growth in Flathead County, farmers and ranchers are likely looking for new and innovative ways to generate farm income.  At the same time, there are more and more people, both year round as well as seasonal, in the valley.  In Europe, farmers and ranchers have tuned in to this growth in the form of “Multifunctional Agriculture.”

To aid farmers and ranchers in Montana to tap into these concepts, Flathead Valley Community College, together with several partners in the Flathead Valley, will offer a new course called “Multifunctional Farming:  Creating New Markets for Your Business.”   Participants will receive guidance for turning regional developments into new for-profit opportunities for their farms or ranches.   Working together with FVCC credit students, participants will learn about a variety of concepts and translate them into concrete plans for their businesses.

“A farm can be a great place for people to visit and enjoy, while earning the farmer or rancher additional income,” said course instructor Maarten Fischer.  “Opportunities may include pristine orchard campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, farmers’ golf locations, farm shops, child care farms and education farms, among others.”

Fischer has been at the forefront of developing multifunctional agriculture in the Netherlands and Europe for the past 12 years, both from the perspectives of farmers and ranchers as well as from a business development standpoint.  He has specific ideas to help participants apply similar concepts in our region.  Entrepreneurs and experts from the northwest corner of Montana will act as guest speakers.

This course is made possible by a Montana Department of Agriculture Growth Through Agriculture grant and is being held in partnership with the following organizations:  Flathead Valley Community College, Farm Hands, Montana West Economic Development, Flathead County Economic Development Authority and the Lake County Community Development Corporation.  After the course is completed in Flathead County, the course materials will be distributed to extension offices and farm and agriculture centers around the state.

The course will be held at different locations around the Flathead Valley.  The class will include four sessions taking place from January 31 through the end of March.  The cost is $100 per person which includes all course materials and lunches.  To register, contact the FVCC Continuing Education Center at 756-3832.  For additional course information, contact Fischer at 260-7840.