LANGLEY, Wash. — Does a lifetime of digging in the dirt (building soil!) sound like an enticing career goal? If so, we just may have the solution to your post-pandemic career blues.
Next month the critically acclaimed Organic Farm School begins accepting applications for one of the most intensive training programs in the country. Situated on a rural island in the Pacific Northwest, the 10-acre, solar-powered farm is certified organic and offers its experiential training program from April through October. Next year’s class will be selected by December 2021.
The program provides practical and comprehensive education in small-scale organic farming. Guided by experienced farmer-instructors, trainees learn through hands-on management of the farm, plus regular observation walks, field trips, and classroom studies (both in person and virtual).
Participants are from 21 to over 60 years old, many transitioning from past careers ranging from finance to medicine to education. One graduate was even destined to become a professional athlete, but instead answered the call to become a farmer.
The curriculum is designed for aspiring farmers who envision themselves owning or managing a small organic farm. Trainees grow vegetables, seed crops and cover-crops as well as pastured poultry, sheep and pigs. They then sell farm products to the community through a CSA program, a farmer’s market, local grocers and a weekly farm stand. The classroom work focuses on crop and livestock production, business planning, and direct marketing.
A wide range of practical skills taught include basic mechanics and carpentry, how to use small and large equipment, greenhouse propagation, as well as planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing, and record keeping. Personal one-on-one coaching includes creation of a farm business plan where professional dreams are fully explored.
Increasingly, post-grad opportunities include farm incubator sites, farm worker jobs and modest land leases. Tuition for the seven-month program is $5,000. However, no one should forego applying because of financial need, as the school has established a student-support fund. To apply visit organicfarmschool.org.
–Organic Farm School
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