Begin Farming Apprenticeship Program

Fielding the Next Farm Team

Applications for 2017 are closed. Applications for 2018 will open in October 2017. 

About the Apprenticeship Program

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

Up to nine apprentices will work on one of two central Ohio certified organic farms during the 2017 growing season:

Apprentices will gain on-farm experience in the daily production practices of a mixed vegetable operation, including experience with equipment and infrastructure. They will also be immersed in farm business management, including organic certification requirements. Apprentices will work with the Begin Farming Program Coordinator and their host farms to develop a personal learning plan, within the scope of the apprenticeship, tailored to their training needs. To enhance the learning experience, apprentices may receive customized reading materials to complete. By the end of the apprenticeship, participants can expect to have a strong understanding of what it takes to operate a production-oriented, small farm.

In addition to this paid position, apprentices will attend off-farm educational workshops hosted by OEFFA, tour exemplary farms, and connect with other apprentices and early career farmers through robust networking opportunities within the community. Apprentices that complete this program receive a beginner's farm planning course scholarship 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 both outside and indoors, often doing monotonous and physical activities.
  • Work closely with a small team every day and contribute as a team member.
  • Work closely with your host farm mentors daily during training, and transitioning to independent work as skills and abilities allow.
  • 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.


  • 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
  • Able to work at least 4 months during the 2017 growing season (start times flexible)
  • Ability to acquire own housing
  • Able to work full-time, with some work expected on evenings and/or weekends
  • A positive “can do” attitude!


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

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 in order to begin farming on your own. 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?

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

Photo: Our Harvest Cooperative

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Apprentice Program