Crops Apprentice Program Curriculum and Responsibilities
The apprenticeship program aims for each apprentice to become skilled in the practices of agroecology. Agroecological crop production is the practice of stewarding land and producing food in partnership with ecological processes. The goal is to minimize environmental and social impact with fewer external inputs. Our agroecological principles serve as the tools for these management decisions. The crops apprentice will gain practical production experience in a diversified cropping system. This production experience will be supported with on-farm and indoor classroom time to provide a comprehensive understanding of agroecological systems. The farm crop manager and his team will provide daily operational training, mentorship, and guidance in the crop production spaces and its CSA, retail, and wholesale markets. The apprentice will participate on a team that includes farm managers, other apprentices, support staff, interns and volunteers.
Apprentices are asked to lead and facilitate in the Center’s educational outreach, providing training opportunities to build communication skills around our practices in agroecology and food system change with diverse audiences, including farmers, chefs, weekend visitors, and high school and college students.
In addition, apprentices will participate in classes, workshops and conferences led by Stone Barns Center’s experienced farmers and other food and agricultural experts in the region. The aim is to create literacy around agroecology. This academic component will reinforce and supplement the apprenticeship’s hands-on production training with a working knowledge of the science, arts and practical applications of agroecology. Some workshops will be complemented by traveling to other farms in the region through the apprentice’s participation in the Hudson Valley Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) program and through Stone Barns Center generated opportunities.
The crops apprentice will learn skills for growing, harvesting and processing a diversity of high quality vegetables, flowers and herb crops in our 7-acre vegetable field and 2-acre grain/row crop rotations, ½ acre winter garden with unheated moveable greenhouses and ½ acre soil based four-season greenhouse. Each Crops Apprentice will function as a part of the larger crops team while on a scheduled rotation in both the outdoor and indoor production areas. Time will be spent assisting the farm crops manager and assistant managers with daily farm operations. Through the course of the season, the apprentice will develop production skills including, but not limited to:
- Seed starting
- Greenhouse management and season extension
- Bed preparation
- Direct seeding and transplanting
- Crop and soil health
- Compost management
- Seasonal varietal selection
- Crop maintenance and weed management
- Irrigation systems
- Operating and maintaining relevant machinery
- Processing vegetables for storage and sale
- Tracking production/record keeping
- Supervising volunteers and interns
The Apprenticeship Program will be scheduling each participant into a whole farm rotational schedule beginning in June of 2019 and extending into the fall season. This will provide an opportunity one week a month to immerse into a different farm operation including crops, perennial landscape, compost, rangeland and grazing. The remaining three weeks will be a continued focus on your specialized apprenticeship.
Additionally, roughly 25 percent of your time will be dedicated to interdisciplinary training in agroecology and food system literacy in class. Topics will include but are limited to:
- Soil, flavor and health
- Genetic diversity
- Food’s future in education
- The botany and zoology of our landscapes
The purpose of this interdisciplinary training is to create literacy around key principles of agroecology to empower future leaders to contribute to the conversation around our food systems’ real world problems and the budding solutions that are a part of the current dialogue.
Requirements for Admission
Applicants should be committed to learning and passionate about developing their career as a farmer and food system leader. Preference will be given to applicants with one to two full seasons of farming experience and a background in a production setting. Strong commitment and effort is required and solid time management skills are essential. Apprentices will need to feel comfortable in an educational setting. Teaching or public speaking skills are a plus. Additional prerequisites include the ability to lift at least 50 pounds, be outside in adverse weather conditions and to function positively in a team and as part of a collaborative work environment. Parts of the apprenticeship require intensive physical effort.
The program runs five days per week and includes weekend rotations. This is a nine and 1/2-month apprenticeship, running from February 18, 2019 to November 29, 2019 There are five crops apprentice opportunities offered this year. Each receives a bi-weekly stipend of $1250.00 (gross before taxes), which includes funds for housing. In addition, Stone Barns voluntarily provides workers’ compensation and short-term disability insurance to apprentices.
Please follow the application steps here. The deadline for applications is October 15. Promising candidates will be interviewed and invited for a mandatory in-person trial day during November and early December.