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Beginning Farmers Core Curriculum & Hands-On Workshops



Are you interested in growing and selling vegetables but don’t know where to start? Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University Extension have partnered to develop a certificate program that will introduce you to the ins and outs of becoming a successful market farmer on five acres or less.


By participating in this program, you will attend seven core curriculum lectures that will cover everything from planning your farm to selling at market. You will also apply what you have learned in the classroom on working farms during five hands-on workshops. Finally, you will have the opportunity to choose up to four advanced, elective classes that cover innovative topics such as seed saving and season extension. Lecture classes and workshops will take place on Fridays, 9-noon and electives will take place in the evening.


Staff from our program will work with you to help find hands-on experiences at local farms. This may take the form of a regular volunteer shift, an internship or an apprenticeship. If you have your own farm already up and running, DBG or CSU Extension staff can work with you over the growing season on any issues or questions that arise.



To complete the certificate you must:

- Attend all Core Curriculum (7 total) & Hands-On Workshops (5 total)

- Attend a minimum of 2 Elective courses (4 offered in 2019, register individually)

- Complete all courses within the 2018-2019 calendar year


All Core Curriculum lecture classes take place at the CSU Extension office located at:

Colorado State University-Denver Extension

888 E. Iliff Avenue
Denver, CO 80210


All Hands-On Workshops will be located an offsite location/farm. Directions and locations will be communicated with students the week before class.


All Beginning Farmers Elective courses will take place at Denver Botanic Gardens located at:

Denver Botanic Gardens

909 York St.
Denver, CO 802016


To register for the Beginning Farmers Certificate Course students will register separately for the Beginning Farmers Core Curriculum & for each of your desired Beginning Farmers Elective courses.


For registration questions please contact the Education Department at adult.programs@botanicgardens.org

For program inquiries including specific dates and program content and information about applying for a scholarship, please contact Brien Darby at Brien.Darby@botanicgardens.org


Program Overview


CORE CURRICULUM (must complete all)


October 26, 2018
Introduction to the Realities of Farming: Farm Design, Record Keeping, Scale and Site Selection

This course serves as the introduction to the Beginning Farmers program. We will cover the skills and knowledge necessary to design a farm that meets your goals and discuss how good record keeping can help you stay in business.


November 2, 2018
Crop Planning and Scheduling

In this class, you will learn how to plan for a successful three-season harvest.


November 9, 2018
Soils, Fertility and Plant Nutrition

It all starts with the soil! In this class, you will learn how to identify soil type, troubleshoot potential problem soils and manage your soil to ensure healthy plants.


November 16, 2018
On Farm Food Safety

In this class, we will cover how to design and run your farm to minimize the risks associated with foodborne diseases.


November 30, 2018
Managing Employees, Volunteers and the Customer

Managing people can be difficult. This class will cover some techniques and strategies to best manage the different types of interactions you need to master and run a successful farming business.


December 7, 2018
Vegetable Crop Insect Pests

In this class, you will learn how to identify and manage the major vegetable insect pests.


December 14, 2018
Vegetable Crop Plant Pathogens and abiotic disorders

In this class, you will learn how to identify and manage the major vegetable pathogens in vegetables as well as many of the common abiotic issues that you will encounter in Colorado.


WORKSHOPS (must complete all)


March 15, 2019
Greenhouse Propagation
Chatfield Farms, 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Rd., Littleton, CO 80128

Growing healthy plants starts in the greenhouse. During this workshop, you will be introduced to the materials, equipment and techniques needed to start and finish a large variety of vegetable crops.


April 12, 2019
Soil Management and Compost
Micro Farms Colorado, 8090 W. 19th Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214

Building on the soils lecture, this workshop takes a more in-depth look at overall soil health and a farmer’s responsibility to be a good steward to the land. Compost will also be covered during this workshop.


May 17th, 2019
Tools and Irrigation Field Day
ARDEC South, 4300 E County Rd 50, Fort Collins, CO 80524

Join us at a teaching farm to try out a variety of engine- and hand-powered tools. Other hands-on topics include assembling drip irrigation systems and crop transplanting.


June 21, 2019
Vegetable Pests
Micro Farms Colorado, 8090 W. 19th Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214

During this workshop, you will build on the vegetable pests lectures and get a first-hand view of insects, weeds and pathogens as well as practicing mitigation strategies.


July 19, 2019
Micro Farms Colorado, 8090 W. 19th Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214

This workshop will provide techniques for harvesting the full range of vegetable crops as well as cleaning, preparing and implementing cold storage for harvested produce.



ELECTIVES (Must complete 2 of 4 courses):

Topics TBD, will take place August-September of 2019



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