Rogue Farm Corps is the only organization in Oregon that offers structured, entry-level and advanced farmer education and training programs rooted in real-world farm businesses. We work with more than 20 host farms located in the Rogue Valley, the Portland Metro Area, the South Willamette Valley, and Central Oregon and offer experiences with vegetable production, animal husbandry, dairy, and more. For complete program descriptions, information on our host farms, and applications: http://roguefarmcorps.org
FarmsNext is a full season entry-level residential internship program that combines hands-on training and skills-based education in sustainable agriculture.
As a student intern, you will live and learn on a host farm, receiving up to 1,500 hours of on-farm training and learning in-depth skills from your mentor. Your residential farm training experience is combined with farm tours, classes, and discussion circles throughout the region, as well as opportunities for independent study. Interns are exposed to a vast array of knowledge and expertise by engaging in the daily life of vibrant, agricultural communities.
The FarmsNOW apprenticeship program is for those with farming experience, who are seeking mastery in the art and business of sustainable agriculture. Hands-on training, classes, seminars, and guidance on farm business development will help you gain the skills to plan, design, and run integrated farming systems on your own.
This full-immersion program is designed those who have completed the FarmsNext internship program, or have two years of on-farm experience. You will live and learn on a host farm, receive up to two seasons of on-farm training, and learn in-depth skills from their mentor farmer.
There are two things that it is important for you to know before I say the following sentence: 1.the subject at hand is one that I have considered at great length and that is enormously near and dear to me hear; 2. bomb-diggity is not a phrase that I use lightly. Keeping that in mind, the Quivira Coalition’s new guidebook on agricultural apprenticeships is unequivocally the bomb-diggity. First of all, the PDF is free (though you can order a hard copy for $30). Secondly, unlike a few other guides and databases out there, the Quiviera Coalition’s publication speaks more to the would-be-farming mentors than to potential apprentices. Complete with a thoughtful foreword and introduction, teary-eye-inducing essays on what it means to be a mentor, a collection of case studies of apprenticeship programs in the US, and thoroughly useful appendices, it gets our “must read” stamp of approval for farmers and apprentices alike.
The agricultural apprenticeship sits simultaneously as one of the most beloved and also one of the most contentious institutions in new American sustainable agriculture. Almost every young farmer I know has done at least one apprenticeship. It acts as entryway, proving ground, and foundational base for careers in agriculture. However, at the same time, the past few years have seen debates over fairness and legality of apprenticeships on farms. Are they exploitative of workers? Do they place an undue and uncompensated burden on the farm?
One has to commit to the idea of practical education both for the apprentice and yourself. Remember, you are learning at least as much as the person you are teaching, just at different levels.
These people will:
Pester you with endless questions
Break your shovel handles
Burn up your clutch
Spoil your dog
They will also:
Give you their heart and soul
Make you a much better manager
Teach you how to turn anger into teachable moments
Add to your life in ways that will astonish you.”
– George Whitten, San Juan Ranch and NAP mentor
It is our belief that candid conversations and a defined set of standards within our community are necessary to foster apprenticeship programs that are mutually beneficial to farm, farmer, and apprentice. We need clear expectations, clear goals, and a lot of love for each other in order to ensure that the knowledge this movement has gleaned over the last half century is passed down to, built upon, and carefully stewarded by the next generation. To this end, the Quivira Coalition has taken a large step: their guidebook should become a time-honored resource.
In their own words:
Effecting change at a systemic level requires widespread participation and dedicated effort, and yet none of us need singlehandedly change the world. By growing a strongly collaborative network of small, regional programs at work within their own communities and by learning from one another, we can make a significant difference for ranchers and farmers throughout the country. Our hope is that this guidebook will serve as a catalyst to develop this national network of people committed to agricultural apprenticeships and to growing the next generation of ranchers and farmers.
Before the Quivira Conference in Albuquerque last fall, I had read only a little by Aldo Leopold. At the beginning of A Sand County Almanac I read: “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” A man ahead of his time, Leopold nailed our modern psyche. Continue reading →