Central Wyoming College has received a grant from the LOR Foundation for the Alpine Science Institute on September 8th. The grant will be used to develop a fruit and vegetable processing area and a cold storage for produce awaiting transportation to market.
The LOR Foundation works with rural communities in the Mountain West to enhance livability and prosperity while preserving the character that makes each community unique.
“Central Wyoming College’s new Wind River Farm Business Incubator will support and train a new generation of farmers and strengthen our food supply,” said Michelle Escudaro, LOR’s program officer. “The LOR Foundation is thrilled to be a part of this program and contribute to the cold storage and processing facility.”
The fruit and vegetable processing area will be a component of CWC’s new Wind River Farm Business Incubator and part of the farmer training program at CWC’s Alpine Science Institute. This program will provide workforce development through hands-on training and support beginning farm entrepreneurs. The new processing area will consist of a produce washing station attached to a modified shipping container. The container houses a food processing/packaging area and refrigerated room for cold storage of market-ready produce. The anticipated completion date of the project is November 2020.
“We are so excited that the LOR Foundation is supporting our new farm incubator project at our Alpine Science Institute outside of Lander. The birth of the farm incubator couldn’t be more timely; COVID-19 has accelerated a movement to return to small and mid-size agriculture and Lander only stands to benefit from more local producers, making a viable living in the area and providing the rest of us with locally grown food. As our tagline says – Grow Your Own: Food, Jobs, Communities. ” – Beth Monteiro, executive director for the CWC Foundation
CWC students who are aspiring and beginning farmers will gain farming skills through a hands-on crop production practicum focusing on small-scale, high elevation, regenerative and organic farming practices. Students will learn the business of farming through a comprehensive farm business course and come away with a farm business plan reflecting their own goals. Upon completion of the training, these new farmers can enter the farm incubator on-site where they have access to land, water, farm infrastructure, equipment, marketing outlets and mentoring at below market rates. They can stay with the incubator for up to five years as they build a successful business.
“This project would not have been possible without the support of the LOR Foundation,” said Joanne Slingerland, project director and CWC-Lander director. “Our beginning farmers will benefit from the opportunity to learn essential farming skills from seedbed preparation, planting, growing to harvesting, and then utilizing the processing area to prepare safe, fresh and nutritious products for their customers and community.”
The Wind River Farm Business Incubator and the farmer training program will launch in the spring of 2021 and CWC is seeking aspiring farmers to join the first training cohort. To find out more information about this new program, visit www.cwc.edu/farmincubator or call CWC-Lander at (307) 855-2330.