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Begin Farming Apprenticeship Program

Fielding the Next Farm Team


Applications for 2018 are now being accepted!

About the Apprenticeship Program

The Begin Farming Apprenticeship Program is an educational program for aspiring farmers to gain the hands-on experience and skills necessary to consider a career in organic agriculture. Ideal candidates will have a strong commitment and desire to start a farming operation of their own.

Apprentices will work on certified organic mixed vegetable farms throughout Ohio during the 2018 growing season:

  • Banzhaf Garten Organic Farm, in Ashland, Ohio is a 20 acre mixed vegetable and fruit farm and has been certified organic since 2003. Farmer Dave Benchoff primarily sells products through Local Roots in Ashland/Wooster and the Howe Meadow Farmers' Market. One bedroom, shared housing on-farm is available at this host farm.
  • Jorgensen Farms, in Westerville, Ohio grows organic vegetables and herbs and operates a farm events and wedding venue. Farmer David Karikomi grows vegetables that are sold at various central Ohio farmers' markets and to the Jorgensen Farm's catering business for farm-to-table events.
  • Mile Creek Farm, in New Lebanon, Ohio is a small family farm growing fresh produce for the local community. Mile Creek Farm has been in operation since 2007 and certified organic since 2010. Farmers Ben and Emily Jackle sell a wide range of vegetables through a CSA and through the 2nd Street Market in the Dayton.
  • Sunbeam Family Farm, in Alexandria, Ohio is a diverse 10 acre vegetable farm that has been in operation since 2011. Farmer Ben Dilbone grows mixed vegetables for various marketing channels, including the Granville Farmers' Market and a CSA.
  • That Guy's Family Farm, in Clarksville, Ohio is a 48 acre diversified family farm located on the banks of Todds Fork. Farmers Guy and Sandy Ashmore have been certified since 1998 and sell produce to the Deerfield Farmers' Market and operate a summer and winter CSA. On-farm apprentice housing for two individuals is available at this host farm.

Apprentices will gain on-farm experience in the daily production practices of a mixed vegetable operation as employees of the host farms. Apprentices may have the opportunity to be immersed in farm business management, including organic certification requirements and marketing. Apprentices will work with the Begin Farming Program Coordinator and their host farms to develop a personal learning plan tailored to their training needs and host farm offerings. By the end of the apprenticeship, participants will have experienced multiple hands-on practices of one farm's operation, gained insight into some of the challenges to have a successful farm business, and have a better idea of whether they want to go into farming.

In addition to this paid position, apprentices will attend distance education workshops, tour diverse farms, and connect with other apprentices and host farms through skill-share and networking opportunities within the community. Apprentices will also receive a scholarship to attend the Farm Vision workshop to help clarify their motivation, vision, strengths, and training needs to begin their own operation.

The Begin Farming Apprenticeship will be physically, emotionally, and intellectually challenging. If accepted, you will:

  • Work mainly outside and occasionally indoors, often doing monotonous and physical activities.
  • Work closely with a small team every day and contribute as a team member.
  • Maintain high work quality standards even when working independently.
  • Learn a tremendous amount about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, how a certified organic mixed vegetable operation works, and if agriculture is really for you.

Requirements

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Able to lift at least 50 pounds
  • Reliable transportation to and from the farm
  • Willing and able to work in extreme weather conditions
  • Ability to acquire own housing if necessary
  • Able to work 35-40 hours per week, with the possibility of some work expected on evenings and/or weekends
  • A positive “can do” attitude!

Compensation

Apprentices will be paid $10/hour, receive an individually-tailored learning plan, and networking and educational opportunities with others in the program.

Educational Expectations

What do you, the apprentice, want to learn from this experience? Consider making a detailed list of the skills and experiences you want to acquire. Also, consider your farming philosophy, and learn more about the host farms from their websites to see if you will be a good match. You will be working closely with your host farmer(s), and developing a strong, working relationship will be essential to a fulfilling, positive experience. This program is geared towards organic vegetable production, so if you are seeking an experience on a multi-species livestock operation, this may not be the best fit for you.

Ready to Get Started?

Please consider thoughtful responses to the following questions to prepare for your application:

  1. Why are you interested in pursuing farming as a livelihood?
  2. What are the aspirations you have dreamed about, if any, for a future farm of your own?
  3. What challenges do you perceive to farming and how would you plan to address those challenges as a farmer?
  4. What do you hope to learn from this apprenticeship and why is it important to you?
Applications for 2018 are now being accepted!


Please direct all questions to Kelly Henderson, Begin Farming Program Coordinator.

Photo: Sunbeam Family Farm

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