The stereotypes of true “family farming” dying out, and of the “typical farmer” as a senior citizen are still accurate in a lot of respects, says a Rockford-area farming education advocate. Sheri Doyel is part of the farmer training initiative at the Caledonia-based Angelic Organics Learning Center. She says she is trying to change that trend: “In the last five years, there’s been consumer demand for foods that are grown locally and grown on smaller farms,” she says.
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Doyel is not part of the USDA’s new website that is trying to educate young people about becoming farmers, but she says such efforts are a good start: “New farmers are most successful when they are learning from other farmers … and that relies on local networks to be in existence,” she says. The website includes information about financing and other help available for beginning farmers and ranchers. It’s a joint effort of the USDA National Agricultural Library and the American Farm Bureau Federation.