Apprentice

Are you interested in farming as a career, but want to gain experience working beside a successful farmer?

Would you like to advance your farming skills in a working-farm setting? 

The Farm Apprenticeship program through the Center for Arkansas Farms and Food (CAFF) is designed to provide experiential learning for the next generation of Arkansas farmers and to support farm development in the state.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The program matches apprentice areas of interest with mentor farms, providing real farm working experience. Apprentices learn alongside successful farmers, getting a taste of “farm life” before starting their own farm businesses. The CAFF apprenticeship program lasts one to two seasons, depending on apprentice interests. The program includes a core set of classes with curriculum topics that complement the hands-on learning.

CLASSES

Apprentices are required to attend twelve educational classes, nine of which are held in the winter prior to starting the on-farm experience. Classes take place at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Remote attendance options are available. Three additional classes are held during the growing season. These allow apprentices to share information and experiences. Classes are 2-3 hours each, and include foundational topics that provide the essential building blocks for on-farm learning.

 ON-FARM EXPERIENCE

An agreement is signed between the farm mentor and apprentice outlining the terms of employment with important details. Each on-farm experience is different. Farm mentors determine details such as number of working hours per week, work responsibilities and any specific policies, including living arrangements if applicable. The exact on-farm start and end dates for each apprenticeship are based on needs of the mentor farmer. Start dates are typically in late winter.

APPRENTICESHIP PROVISIONS

On-farm provisions are based on the resources and determination of the mentor farm and therefore may vary widely from one farm to another. Work responsibilities, hours, time-off, housing, compensation and other details will be clearly communicated in a written agreement prior to the start of an on-farm experience.

 Some optional provisions offered by the host farmer may or may not include:

•Rate of monthly stipend or hourly wage

•Living onsite and helping with household chores

•Sharing meals with the farmer’s family and participating in meal prep

See below for more information, program costs and how to apply.

 

EXPECTATIONS OF APPRENTICES

Learning alongside an experienced farmer is one of the best ways to learn the business.

Apprentices should expect to work long, hard hours. In return, apprentices learn invaluable lessons about farm life and discover ideas for their own future farm.

Apprentices should expect to:

•Participate in all classroom sessions and group activities

•Work closely with, and as directed by, farm mentor(s)

•Write weekly journal or blog entries

•Be challenged physically, intellectually and emotionally

PROGRAM COSTS AND OVERVIEW

Apprenticeship Fee: $285 / per calendar year

Program Duration: 10 months – 2 years, based on apprentice interests

Classroom Sessions:  12 in total (9 prior to placement, 3 in-season)

Farm Placement: Begins in late winter/early spring

Networking: With apprentices/farmers/organizations/businesses

Checks-ins: Periodically by CAFF staff

Certificate: Based on the number of on-farm hours completed

HOW TO APPLY

Apply at UAfarmapprentice.org.

Applications should be submitted between September 1 – December 15. 

If  you require application accessibility assistance, or have questions, contact CAFF at: CAFF.uark.edu

If you’re interested in this program, please contact us or fill out an application by clcking the link at the top of the page.

Farmer Mentors

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.

The Farm School

CAFF also offers experiential farm learning through The Farm School. This is a 20-hour per week, M-F, 8-Noon program that takes place at the CAFF Farm in Fayetteville.