Growing up in North Dakota on a small hobby-type ranch, Dean Dauphinais became interested in farming at a young age.
Dean is now an honorably discharged Marine Corps veteran and has relocated to Bemidji, Minnesota, where his wife is from.
Enthusiasm about farming from his youth and potential opportunities in the hemp market following the 2018 farm bill led Dean to seek land in the Bemidji area for a potential agricultural operation. While researching U.S. Department of Agriculture related topics, he discovered “A Year in the Life,” a series of agriculture events for veterans hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs.
“I was glad to see there are efforts putting focus on helping veterans,” Dean said.
The veteran didn’t hesitate to sign up. He attended the first session in January which focused on land access. And, participants shared thoughts on their “dream farm.”
“The land acquisition portion was most eye-opening,” Dean said.
“A Year in the Life” will continue monthly until November. Classes are online, and if pandemic precautions allow, will also be on the farm. The course focuses primarily on military veterans who are potentially beginning agricultural operations.
Even though Dean is still exploring what he wants to do, he has ideas and is open to different routes he can take on this journey.
“I would like to learn about resources to tap into as I formulate a plan to grow hemp, as well as possibly establish some other ranching and farming related projects,” he said. “Primarily, I am looking at hemp, but if I discover other opportunities, I'd be open to considering them.”
Dean plans to continue attending “A Year in a Life,” alongside veterans from across the country. Following the class, he has outlined his next steps: identify land and opportunities in hemp; develop a business plan; and conduct market research.
Erin Schoenberg, project associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, is excited to continue these classes and interact with the veterans and military personnel.
“Participants in these workshops have been enthusiastic about networking with other veterans around the state and country,” she said. “Getting to share their farm dreams, stories, and knowledge back and forth has been a highlight for the 2021 series so far. We've even added an optional informal get together (virtually) between monthly classes as another opportunity to connect.”
The next session is scheduled for Saturday, March 27, and will focus on holistic goal setting. For more information and to register, visit cfra.org/events.
Feature photo: Due COVID-19 restrictions, on-farm sessions are being taught over Zoom. | Photo by Erin Schoenberg
Middle photo: Jerry Cornett, a farm leader, teaching participants virtually. | Photo by Erin Schoenberg
Bottom photo: Renee Cornett giving a tour of the kitchen at Prairie Plate Restaurant where she uses ingredients from their farm. | Photo by Erin Schoenberg