CLEDAAre you ready to become a farmer? That’s good, because there’s a huge need for farmers in Central Louisiana, and the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance is prepared to help you fulfill your dream.

“Exploring the Small Farm Dream” is a free, six-week training series for beginning farmers or anyone who wants to own and manage a small farm for profit. The training sessions, which begin Oct. 9, are a joint project between CLEDA and the LSU Ag Center.

“We did a study that showed million worth of unprocessed fresh fruits and vegetables are consumed in Central Louisiana every year. However, we produce only million worth, million commercially and million in backyard gardens. So there is a huge gap between what is consumed here and what is produced here,” said Gary Perkins, executive director of Business Acceleration System, a program for local entrepreneurs funded by The Rapides Foundation and administered by CLEDA.

There’s a crucial need for farmers, especially in Central Louisiana where there is a growing movement among residents to eat local, fresh and nutritious food.

Across the United States, 2,000 farms produce 80 percent of all the fresh vegetables consumed in the nation. “We need 30 million more farmers, and soon,” Perkins said. “CLEDA is here to help.”

“Exploring the Small Farm Dream” will help aspiring farmers learn what it takes to start and manage a commercial agricultural business. Topic areas include how to create a business plan for your farm, record-keeping, how to grow crops, how to test your soil, when do you plant, and how do you market your yield.

Classes will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov. 16 at the CLEDA offices, 1118 Third Street, Alexandria.

There are 20 spots available for this free series. Click the link to register. To learn more about the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, go to For more about Business Acceleration System, go to