Are you interested in farming as a career, but want to gain experience working beside a successful farmer? Or would you like to advance your farming skills in a working-farm setting?
Our apprenticeship program matches your areas of interest with farms across the region to provide real farm life experiences. You learn alongside successful farmers, meet other apprentices and beginning farmers and get a taste of farm life before you start your own farm business. Our apprenticeship program lasts one to two years and includes a core set of curriculum topics to compliment your hands-on learning.
Nine educational sessions will take place in Fayetteville at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center during the winter prior to starting your on-farm experience. Three additional classes will occur during the growing season to allow for apprentices to share information and experiences. Classes include foundational topics that provide essential building blocks for on-farm learning. Early in the program, we also conduct baseline skills self-assessments and identify individual goals that allow us to create an experience that targets your needs.
Initial farm matches are based on your application information and the farming systems of our mentor farms. You can request a particular farm but the farmer makes the final choice on who he/she selects to be his/her apprentice. The farmer will conduct an interview and make a final decision for employment. We highly encourage an on-farm work day for both parties to get acquainted and test out their working relationship before committing.
An agreement is signed between the farm mentor and apprentice outlining the terms of their employment, living arrangements, and important details. Each on-farm experience is different. The timing of your on-farm placement begins based on the needs of your mentor farmer, typically in late winter. The farm mentor provides details on work hours, work responsibilities, and any farm policies. On-farm provisions are based on the resources of the mentor farm and therefore may vary widely from one farm to another. Some of these details include:
- may or may not live onsite
- may or may not receive a monthly stipend or an hourly wage
- may or may not share meals with their farm mentor (and family) and participate in household chores such as preparing a meal or cleaning afterwards
- work responsibilities, hours / week, time-off, housing, compensation and other details will be clearly communicated with you and will be included in a written agreement, prior to starting your on-farm experience.
Expectations of Apprentices
Learning alongside an experienced farmer is one of the best ways to learn the business. Apprentices should expect to work hard, long hours but to also learn invaluable lessons about farming and discover their own approach to farming. With this in mind, apprentices should expect to:
- participate in all classroom sessions, group activities
- work closely with, and as directed by farm mentor(s)
- write weekly journal or blog entries and
- be challenged physically, intellectually and emotionally.
- Apprenticeship fee: $285 per year to help cover the costs of education and administration
- Program duration of 10 months – 2 years
- 12 classroom sessions
- Farm placement beginning in late winter/early spring
- Networking opportunities with other apprentices, farmers, local organizations and businesses
- Checks-ins by CAFF program staff to ensure you’re advancing your skills and knowledge
- Apprentice receives certificate of completion upon finishing the program
Our role at the CAFF is to educate, match, assess and monitor the progression of skill development of apprentice farmers. After the initial classroom sessions and apprentice farm placement, we check-in with apprentices and mentors at 3 weeks to ensure the match is compatible. At 3, 6, 9 months we conduct assessments to evaluate the progression of skills development in the apprentice. At this time we also check-in and make sure that mentors and apprentices are satisfied with their experiences
Are you willing to share your knowledge and shape the next generation of farmers? Are you in need of motivated, enthusiastic farm labor that is eager to learn from you? Can you balance the needs and responsibilities of running a successful farm business, while educating an apprentice as he/she moves along the continuum of developing skills with increasing levels of independence? We are interested in you joining our program! Contact us to see if you/your farm is a good match.