2020 Agroforestry Apprenticeship Program


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Highlighted Mentor Farmers

Brambleberry Farm - Paoli, IN

We are a small, permaculture-based nursery and homestead-scale farm. Most of our income is derived from our fruit/nut/berry nursery that provides regionally-appropriate cultivars, species, and rootstocks to help customers succeed in growing their plants without synthetic inputs. Darren also does a fair amount of consulting work helping other farmers and homesteaders figure out ways to succeed in their endeavors. Espri spends the fall and winter months crafting unique wooden kitchen utensils and cutting boards which she sells in Bloomington, IN. We live with our three daughters in a strawbale house we built ourselves. There are two attached greenhouses full of subtropical fruiting plants. A handful of beef cattle graze pastured and cover-cropped alleys between rows of fruit and nut trees in a 3-acre silvopasture system that is approaching 10 years from planting. Recently a 19-acre lot was purchased and will be slowly converted to silvopasture as time and resources allow.

Finca Mirasol - Northfield, MN

Finca Mirasol is a small regenerative poultry farm in the Northfield, MN area and part of the Regeneration Farms network in SE-MN. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquín is the founder of the Regenerative Poultry System that is currently being used across the Midwest and internationally. They believe in a perennial future and farming system that regenerates the land and water, raising chickens under the Tree-Range™️ brand. Chickens are raised in their natural habitat, the forest, and value the fact that nature requires diverse systems to remain healthy and the interconnection of all species.  In addition to the details of the regenerative poultry system and energy management methodology, apprentices will learn about alley cropping, managing hazelnuts and elderberries as an understory and as perennial crops, soil health, and more!

Lily Springs Farm - Osceola, WI

Lily Springs Farm is a 100-acre regenerative farm and event space. Permaculture principles drive the design of our food forest plots, our forest management, and our event hosting. Through regenerative farming and holistic land management practices, we provide experiences and training for people interested in building a resilient future. Permaculture and whole systems design are being applied to restore our habitats to health and to build a sustainable perennial-based farm system that integrates land, people and the built environment. Programming flows naturally from that work and from our intention to foster health in ourselves and the land. Apprentices will have the opportunity to contribute to all projects across the farm, including educational programming and agritourism events. Farm work opportunities include managing a team of goats rotationally grazing the forest, harvesting a variety of perennial crops from two food forests on-site, and caring for contract-raised chickens in Salatin-style tractors. We are also part of the WI-DATCP Industrial Hemp trial program, so apprentices will learn about the exciting potential of industrial hemp planted in polyculture and grown with beyond-organic practices.

Mary Dirty Face Farm - Menomonie, WI

We have a certified organic orchard, with apples, pears, plums, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, blueberries, and some other fruit on about 5 1/2 acres, as well as a new orchard with about 6 acres of mostly apples. We raise pastured hogs, lambs, and poultry, which all spend time in and around the orchard. We custom graze cattle in the summer. This year, we are preparing to do some grazing in our woods as well. We market through a CSA-style fruit share and direct market meat shares, as well as going to a farmers market and selling to our local co-op and restaurants. We have been farming here since 2009, and have been learning a lot as we go. We are very involved in sustainable farming organizations and Wisconsin Farmers Union, and are excited to be able to share what we've learned.

Nettle Valley Farm - Spring Grove, MN

Nettle Valley Farm is a farmstead in the beautiful Driftless area of southeastern MN. Our main enterprise here is raising heritage breed pigs on pasture and organic feed which we sell by the whole and half to families in the area. (Feel free to check us out on Fb and Instagram under Nettle Valley Farm). The farmstead is 70 acres of woods, pasture, pine plantation, ponds and fields near Spring Grove, MN. Farmstead projects include caring for the pigs and goats, maintaining a kitchen garden, simple building projects, fermentation projects, helping our neighbors with various tasks, firewood chores, milling wood with the sawmill, and thinning the pine plantation. Two beginning farmers will be managing their own duck, geese, vegetable and sheep enterprises here.


Prairie Birthday Farm LLC - Kearney, MO

Linda Hezel Ph.D., R.N. began as Farm Steward at Prairie Birthday Farm 20+ years ago, with regenerating its soil, bringing the soil organic matter from 2% to more than 6%.  While producing flavorful ingredients, it also serves as a teaching laboratory where Linda works with chefs, farmers, researchers, gardeners, nutritionists, naturalists, artists and others to learn about and practice regenerative agriculture and understand healthy food for our nutritional wellness.  The farm is host to poultry and honeybees as well as over 36 flowers, 25 fruits, 40 herbs, 15 vegetables and more than 140 native varieties that yield 10 months out of the year without synthetic chemicals or season extension structures.  Bounty from the Farm is sold to dozens of area residents and over 25 chefs. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Feast Magazine – Midwest, Feast TV, Kansas City Star and others. Instagram: prairiebirthdayfarm

Red Fern Farm - Wapello, IA

We have a diverse fruit and nut farm and nursery, with chestnuts, heartnuts, pawpaws, persimmons, and nursery stock our most important crops.  Crops are harvested mainly by customers in a Pick-your-own system.  We added Katahdin sheep in 2019.


Illinois Demonstration Farms - central IL

Savanna Institute is working to advance agroforestry by supporting the establishment and management of three Demonstration Farms across Illinois featuring novel tree crop varieties in integrated systems. Sun Dappled Farm (located on 17 acres outside of Peoria, IL on private land) will feature restoration agriculture using native and perennial crops, Allerton Farm (located on 45 acres in Monticello, IL at Allerton Park and Retreat Center) will showcase alley cropping of convention row crops between nut & timber tree rows, and Field Restored (located on 26 acres outside of Oregon, IL on private land) will highlight silvopasture, riparian buffers, and windbreaks.

2020 Apprentices

Jazmyn Benjamin

Brambleberry Farm

Edgar Durand

Lily Springs Farm

Elana Gingerich

Red Fern Farm

Henrique Hedler

Mary Dirty Face Farm

Ella Heron

Lily Springs Farm

Greta Larson

IL Demo Farms

Dane Mainella

Red Fern Farm

Dane McKittrick

IL Demo Farms

Hannah Patrick

IL Demo Farms

Meredith Stamberger

IL Demo Farms

Apprenticeship Alumni

Connor Dunn - 2019

Red Fern Farm


Read Connor's 2019

apprenticeship essay!

Ian Goller - 2019

Saturn & Vulcan Farms

Avery Pheil - 2019

Mary Dirty Face Farm


Read Avery's 2019

apprenticeship essay!

Christina Sloss - 2019

Prairie Birthday Farm


Read Christina's 2019

apprenticeship essay!

Program Overview

The Savanna Institute apprenticeship program provides experience and technical education for aspiring agroforestry farmers through on-farm training with a mentor farmer as well as community-building opportunities for farmers, apprentices, and those interested in agroforestry. We strive to support all participants to ensure program accessibility and support to historically marginalized and low income groups through diversity, equity, and inclusion training to mentor farmers and through paid apprentice employment. Because training days are open to the public, apprentices also begin to become acquainted with the network of farmers and businesses that will become a crucial support for their work when they begin farming on their own.


Apprenticeships Include:

  • On-farm training with a mentor farmer at a host farm during the 2020 season.
  • At least one cohort training day at host farm, including instruction and hands-on experience in a broad range of agroforestry practices.
  • Online course work on agroforestry curated by Savanna Institute staff.
  • A network of agroforestry farmers for peer learning and professional development.
  • Free attendance at the our 2020 Perennial Farm Gathering.


What you will learn: perennial crop establishment and/or harvest, farm planning and decision-making; equipment and crop maintenance; product marketing; farm/tree finance; value-added processing; and more!

Duration: 10 weeks, flexible start and end date; part-time also available; some mentors are interested in hiring apprentices longer-- starting in late Spring/ early summer through harvest in October/November.

Location: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, or Iowa (possibly Indiana and more)

Room and Board: Depends on host farm

Pay: We strongly encourage our mentor farmers to pay at least $10/hour. In some cases, room and board is provided by the host/mentor farmer. We do our best to create matches between farmers and apprentices  who have similar interests and also work schedules/needs.

Additional activities: Apprentices interview an experienced agroforestry practitioner of their choosing; interviews may be turned into a podcast. Apprentices experiences will also culminate in writing a blog post to be shared with the community about their experiences.

On-farm schedule: Working on the farms is flexible—not every apprentice completes their on-farm experience at the same time. In 2019, some apprentices start in May and June and others who didn’t start until September. It depends on the needs of the mentor farm and the availability of the matched apprentice. Flexible schedules can be arranged to a certain extent. If you have questions about apprenticeship schedules, please make sure to include them in your application.



These details are still evolving as we may potentially receive additional funding for this program.


On farm training: After evaluating mentor and apprentice applications, finalists will be matched with a mentor/host farm and will learn a variety of agroforestry techniques specific to the host farm's operation, including perennial crop establishment and/or harvest, farm planning and decision-making; equipment and crop maintenance; product marketing; farm/tree finance; value-added processing; and more!


Time commitment for apprentices: Most apprentices will be expected to work full-time, 10 weeks on-farm; however, part-time and flex positions are also available-note preference in application. In addition, apprentices will participate in at least one cohort training day (in-person) as well as an online course that is 10 weeks long, meeting once per week for discussions.


In addition, apprentices interview experienced agroforestry practitioners and in the future, these interviews will be recorded and turned into a podcast. They are also expected to write a blog post about their experiences.


Time commitment for mentor farmers: Mentors are expected to work side-by-side with their matched apprentice for a minimum of ½ day per week for 10 weeks. We will provide a small stipend to compensate for the mentor’s time and experience.

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