2020 Agroforestry Apprenticeship Program
Agroforestry, the practice of managing trees together with other crops and animal production, is an important key to mitigating climate change while providing environmental and socioeconomic benefits. In order to change the agricultural system here in the Midwest through agroforestry, we need to train a new generation of agroforestry farmers. Are you ready to be part of this transformation?
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.
Applications are due February 28, 2020. We will be accepting 10-15 apprentices.
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 one-on-one with their matched apprentice for a minimum of ½ day per week for 10 weeks. We are hoping to provide a small stipend to compensate for the mentor’s time and experience.
Ian Goller - 2019
Saturn & Vulcan Farms
Highlighted Mentor Farmers
Hoch Orchard and Gardens is a vertically integrated fruit production operation. We have about thirty acres in the production of tree fruit, stone fruit, small fruit, vegetables, nursery, and high tunnels. This is a family run farm that is also an income producing commercial company. We harvest, pack, store, process, and delivery our products. We produce several value-added products including fresh juice, jelly, sauce, vinegar, sauerkraut, hard cider and wine. We are looking for an apprentice with a strong interest in value-added processing. Our hard cider production has grown to become the largest piece of our production, but we still utilize low grade fruit from all our crops. There will be a lot of cleaning, sorting, freezing, milling, pressing and some canning. More than 50% of the apprentice’s time will be outdoor farm work, but he or she will be expected to be the lead worker every time we process. The apprentice will have the opportunity to figure out cost of production and view our sales, pricing, and input costs. Also use equipment for small scale processing, pressing, fermenting, bottling, printing and labeling. There will opportunity to learn about health codes and licensing along with Best Manufacturing Practices.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
Vulcan Farm is the hyper-diverse nursery farm and genetic repository for Midwest Agroforestry Solutions. All crops are incorporated into a range of agroforestry practices and innovative research projects. Situated in the heart of row-crop agriculture, the farm also serves as an important educational hub. Saturn Farm is the first commercial-scale farm of Midwest Agroforestry Solutions. The core crops of chestnut, hazelnut, and currant are arranged in an innovative multi-layer, alley cropping design. Mechanized management and harvest is emphasized, along with performance trials that will inform variety selection for Midwest scale-up.