For our March Volunteer of the Month, we would like to recognize Nassau Senior Forester James (Jim) Tootle. Jim is an avid supporter of the Fred B. Miller, Jr. Regional Envirothon and has mentored hundreds of high school students in environmental science as they have participated in our annual competition. His dedication as a friend of the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District and his willingness to volunteer each year do not go unnoticed! We are grateful that he works hard to impart to the next generation his hard-earned wisdom from his many years as a county forester.
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Jacksonville, FL — Duval Soil and Water Conservation District announced today the opening of applications for its 2021 Start Farming Mentorship program which will support new farmers by providing tours of local farm operations and onsite workshops about sustainable practices, including water conservation, composting and permaculture. The year-long program, made possible by a $2,500 grant award from the National Association of Conservation Districts and volunteer mentors, will select 15 applicants to explore farming opportunities in Duval County.
“In an urban district like ours, new farmers often have not grown up on the farm, so it is essential that they have mentors to provide advice and guidance,” said Jennifer Casey, Chair. “Beginning farmers will now have the opportunity to explore diverse farm operations and learn how sustainable regenerative solutions like composting, permaculture and rainwater catchment can help them overcome some of the challenges of starting a farming endeavor.”
Over the course of the year, participants will take guided tours of four farms, from an urban farm in a food dessert to a rural commercial operation. In addition, each will receive a Sustainable Solutions Kit valued at over $150 which will include resources for water conservation, a compost kit, and seed to attract beneficial pollinators. Beyond the training, participants will network with the local agricultural community and with agency personnel offering conservation funding assistance to growers and producers.
The Start Farming Mentorship program is open to new farmers who reside in Duval County and are interested in starting a farm business. Preference will be given to past attendees of the District’s annual Start Farming events. Applications are only accepted online at duvalsoilandwater.com and must be submitted by March 15, 2021.
Note: The 2-hour workshops will be facilitated by Duval SWCD and partners which include Apple Rabbit Compost and NativeJax Permaculture Design. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Duval Soil and Water Conservation District
For over 67 years, Duval Soil and Water Conservation District has promoted responsible management and conservation of natural resources by delivering conservation technology and education to local landowners and users and promoting the wise use of land and best management practices that will conserve, improve and sustain the natural resources of Duval County.