Crops Apprentice Program Curriculum and Responsibilities
This working apprenticeship program aims for each apprentice to become skilled in the practices of regenerative agriculture. We design and manage our farm systems in a regenerative relationship to the land, producing food in partnership with ecological processes. This approach to caring for the land minimizes environmental and social impact with fewer external inputs, and establishes principles in partnership with nature that will serve as the tools for 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 farm systems. The senior crops manager, assistant managers and faculty 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 participate in the Center’s educational outreach by giving tours and hosting visitors in the field. Apprentices will receive communications training focused on regenerative farming and how it plays a role in supporting communities and the environment. Apprentices will also engage with and bring public awareness to collaboration between farmers, chefs, and others in the food system.
The cultural experience available at Stone Barns Center will reinforce and supplement the apprenticeship’s hands-on production training. In addition to production, apprentices will be asked to participate in book club discussions, workshops and lectures led by Stone Barns Center’s farmers and other food and agricultural experts in the region, and field days in partnership with regional partnership programs and Stone Barns Center farm networks. In addition, for one week every month, the apprentices will join a different farm operation to gain exposure to other areas of the farm.
The crops apprentice will learn skills for growing, harvesting and processing a diversity of high quality vegetables, flowers and herb crops in our seven-acre vegetable field and two-acre grain/row crop rotations, half acre winter garden with unheated moveable greenhouses and half 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. 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
For one week every month, the apprentices will join a different farm operation to gain exposure to other areas of the farm.
Requirements for Admission
Applicants should be committed to learning and passionate about developing their career as a farmer and agricultural food systems 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 a half-month apprenticeship, running from March 2 to November 27, 2020. There are five crops apprentice opportunities offered this year. Each receives a bi-weekly stipend of $1250.00 (gross before taxes). We do not have housing on-site, but can support apprentices to find housing. In addition, Stone Barns provides workers’ compensation and short-term disability insurance to apprentices.
Please follow the application steps here. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2019. Promising candidates will be interviewed and invited for a mandatory in-person trial day during November and early November.