Agricultural apprenticeship roundup

Beginning farmers account for approximately 10 percent of all US agricultural production, according to data collected from the USDA Census of Agriculture. Moreover, a beginning farmer operates about 20 percent of all farms. As such, there is an increased need for training and education opportunities for these farmers entering the field.

The Economic Research Service recently released a brief using data collected from 2011 with shocking results: only 25 percent of beginning farmers earn a positive margin of profit from farming. With the changing landscape of agriculture, beginning farmers are more important than ever. For this reason, it is crucial that beginning farmers are able to access the tools necessary to be successful. Many national organizations offer apprenticeships for those interested in farming.

Before beginning an apprenticeship, those interested in the opportunity should look into the Farm Internship Curriculum that Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Western SARE) put together. This guide comprehensively describes the workweek of an individual farmer.

ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

ATTRA has offered apprenticeships in sustainable and organic agriculture since 1989 in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. Potential apprentices can browse the farm and location possibilities for free. The listings are posted directly from farmers seeking apprentices or interns. For more information, visit: https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/internships/

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association

The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association created the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABAP). This two-year on-farm program is designed for beginning biodynamic or organic farmers, in addition to one classroom course. Upon completing the program, apprentices receive a biodynamic farming certificate from the Biodynamic Association. Click here for more information: https://www.biodynamics.com/nabdap

CRAFT – The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training

CRAFT is broken down by region, but each farmer-led branch is specifically designed to educate farmers through mentoring and a social network of support. CRAFT farmers are specialized in organic, sustainable or biodynamic practices in growing vegetables, livestock or grains. For more information on an apprenticeship with CRAFT, find your specific region here: http://www.craftfarmers.org

Beginning Farmers LLC

The Beginning Farmers LLC is dedicated to providing beginning and aspiring farmers with the resources and educational tools they need to succeed. As such, Beginning Farmers aggregates on-farm internship postings on its website. The Beginning Farmers’ blog announces internship postings, while its employment page collects information on regional resources with internship or apprenticeship opportunities, organizations with information on other jobs generally related to agriculture and links to international listings of agricultural jobs. For more information, visit: http://www.beginningfarmers.org/internship-and-employment-opportunities/

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training

The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training – or CRAFT— is a farmer-led coalition that helps to prepare the next generation of farmers. The program started in 1994 in upstate New York and has since spread across the U.S. and Canada.

CRAFT networks offer a unique opportunity for new and beginning farmers to share ideas, resources, and skills through a variety of formal and informal learning.  Apprentices participate in regular gatherings at local farms where mentor farmers talk about a range of issues for farm operations. Collaborative on-farm learning fosters farmer-to-farmer relationships and creates a social network within the local community for people just starting out in agriculture. Programing includes: farms interns/apprentices, mentoring, field days, technical assistance, workshops, conferences, social gatherings, strategic business planning courses, farm incubators, and more.

Below are just a few of the many CRAFT projects happening across the country. Click here to learn about additional CRAFT groups, and contact CRAFT@learngrowconnect.org or 815-389-8455 with any questions.

 

Chesapeake CRAFT

Maryland, Virginia, Maryland

Chesapeake CRAFT was founded in 2010 and has grown significantly since then. The program offers farm tours and potlucks throughout the growing season to build the regional farming network. Events, like farm tours, take place on twelve Mondays throughout the growing season starting at 3:30pm. They are followed by a potluck dinner. The next farm tour is June 3rd at Common Good City Farm in Washington, DC. The fee for joining Chesapeake CRAFT is $150.00, which includes attendance of all farm staff to any CRAFT event during the season. For more information e-mail chesapeakecraft@gmail.com.

 

Sierra CRAFT

California

Farmers who make up this CRAFT group stem from Sierra, Plumas, Yuba, Nevada, Placer and Eldorado Counties in the Sierra Mountains of California. The group provides on-farm field days throughout the year for farmers and ranchers, a listserv, and farm business planning classes—all to create an exchange of information between area farmers. Sierra CRAFT is funded by a grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program of the USDA.

 

CRAFT Southeast

Tennessee, North Carolina

CRAFT Southeast launched in 2012 with a goal to strengthen sustainable farming in the Southern Appalachian region. The groups started with funding provided by the Beattie Foundation, and by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Established farmers and aspiring farmers alike are encouraged to join. Contact Cameron with questions at 828-338-9465 or cameron@organicgrowersschool.org

 

Kentucky CRAFT

Kentucky

KY CRAFT focuses on the bond between mentors and interns as a vital way to grow careers in organic farming. Their mission is to not only broaden future farmers’ awareness of sustainable agriculture opportunities, but also to showcase a variety of regional operations. The group holds monthly workshops and hosts a community calendar that displays field days and other events hosted at KY CRAFT farms.

 

Northwest Lower Michigan CRAFT

Michigan

The Northwest Lower Michigan CRAFT is all about community. Farms that want to join must do two things: 1) host a CRAFT event during the growing season; and 2) allow their interns and apprentices to attend CRAFT events. Events generally consist of farm tours, a 30-60 minute demonstration of a farming skill, and a potluck meal. Hosting farms may join CRAFT for free; individuals not connected to a member farm can attend events for a recommended donation of $5-10 per tour. Contact Amanda Kik at 231-622-5252 or amanda@artmeetsearth.org for more information.

 

North Fork Valley CRAFT

Colorado

The North Fork Valley CRAFT runs a lecture series as well as farm tours on participating farms throughout the growing season. There is also an intern Round Table dinner that includes sharing current events, experiences and support systems. The next CRAFT program is a Large Scale Compost workshop on June 4th. Upcoming classes include fruit growing, and permaculture. Contact Lynn Ruoff at lynnruoff@gmail.com or 970-319-9434 for more information.