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The food sector of our economy is changing. People care about what they eat and where it comes from. Farmers are becoming entrepreneurs. Young agriculture entrepreneurs are breaking away from the traditional farmer image and going into alternative ventures such as the production of organic crops and meats.

Local farmers sell at farmers markets directly to local restaurants and institutions. Restaurants are using local farm produce and organic specialty items to meet the demand for fresh and seasonal dishes.

Youth, ages 14-27, can learn the business side of agriculture by attending for the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Boot Camp at Napa Valley College. This one-week camp runs Monday, Aug. 3, through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Building 3300.

Students will explore project management, marketing research, competition in the marketplace and how a farmer can realize profits for all of that hard work. The cost of the camp is $200, but high school students cam attend for free.

“The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Boot Camp will work with students that are interested in many different aspects of an agriculture business. Start with an agro- business idea, then move on to market research, business planning, financials, and sales and marketing,” said Marie Bianco, Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center Business Advisor and Agricultural Entrepreneurship Boot Camp co-presenter.

“The Boot Camp responds to the need to strengthen the involvement of youth in agriculture, and supports youth capacity building in understanding the basics of Agri-preneurship.”

Participating students will learn in an environment that is challenging and fun. Plus, the Boot Camp is an opportunity for students to work in the garden at Napa Valley College. Topics include:

  • Production of produce and flowers
  • Irrigation
  • Water management
  • Soils management
  • Composting
  • Growing native plants

On the final day, students will present their plan created during the week.

The young agri-entrepreneur needs more than a green thumb; they need a strong sense for business. Today’s farmer wears many hats as they take on a greater role in the business of getting their product from the pasture to the plate.

The combining of innovative farming practices, solid business practices and the use of technology into their business plan will make the difference between a successful farm and one struggling to take their product to market.

If you’re in a local 4-H group, this camp can be an addition to learning the business side of agriculture.

For more information about the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Boot Camp or to register, go to For questions about the camp or other Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development services, call Valerie Bible at (707) 256-7250 or send an email:

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or


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