New Farmer Training
Seed Farm apprentices take part in a 9-month program designed to train new farmers in all aspects of managing a diversified vegetable farm. Apprentices are given decision-making responsibility for our two-acre market garden at the Seed Farm site in Emmaus, PA, from seed to harvest to market. Participants learn a variety of skills, including: business and production planning, risk management, soil fertility management, safe operation of farm equipment, disease and insect management, harvest and post-harvest handling, and marketing. On-farm experiential learning is complemented by formal classes through Penn State Cooperative Extension.
Photo credit Allison Czapp.
Meet our 2014 apprentices!
Educational Components of our Program
- Develop a comprehensive crop plan.
- Each apprentice responsible for crop selection, fertility, pest management and marketing of a selected crop.
- Tractor Safety and basic operation
- Small tools for efficiency
- Tractor based cultivation, seeding, etc
- Exploring the Small Farm Dream
- Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production
- Vegetable Business Planner
Business & Marketing
Apprentices receive an average of 20 hours of training per week. The weekly schedule consists of a full day of production training every Saturday as well as two additional four-hour blocks during the week. Saturday sessions are structured learning opportunities formulated for the whole group. Weekday on-farm work blocks will be dedicated to crop projects (i.e. planting, hoeing, managing diseases/pests and harvesting your crop), management areas and equipment training.
In addition to the standard weekly on-farm schedule, apprentices learn other important
aspects of running a farm business by participating in off-farm learning opportunities:
- Farmers' market shifts: five consecutive Sundays (moving from helper to manager over the course of the rotation)
- Exploring the Small Farm Dream: 4 weekday evenings in April
- Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production: 6 afternoon classes and 6 evening classes
- Vegetable Business Planner: 6 weekday evenings in September/October
Sample weekly schedule:
|7:00-11:00||All apprentice class||Harvest block (CSA)**||Harvest block (farmers' mkt)**||Farmers' Market^|
|12:00-4:00||Work block*||Work block*|
*Work blocks are scheduled by apprentices and Program Director at the beginning of the season.
**Apprentices choose one of the two harvest blocks to participate in each week.
^These training activities are not held every week.
`Work study is a financial aid option available to apprentices.
Work-study Option: Work-study apprentices have the opportunity to gain more experience on the farm while earning back up to as much as tuition payments. Actual amounts depend on labor needs on the farm and apprentices' ability. This is a great option for beginning farmers with little experience on a commercial vegetable farm.
- Preference is given to applicants that have at least one year of farming experience on a diversified vegetable farm.
- A site visit with our Farm Manager/Educator.
- The intention to start or manage a sustainable farm business.
- All apprentices are expected to have a strong work ethic, commitment to detail, ability to take direction and also work independently when necessary.
- Dedication to cooperative working and sustainable agriculture.
- The ability to work well with staff and other apprentices.
- Ability to lift 50 pounds.
- Ability to work in all weather conditions, especially heat.
- 20+ hour per week availability.
- Access to reliable transportation.
- Applications due: November 15th
- After November 15, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
"This institution is an equal opportunity provider."