Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

Do you want to plant seeds of change?

 

If you want to learn to grow food—for yourself, your neighbors, or as a livelihood—EarthDance is here for YOU! The EarthDance Farm & Garden Apprenticeship (A.K.A. “Farm University”) provides beyond-the-basics training in organic agriculture, from seed to market. You are the future of food security. We can’t wait to meet you! If you are ready to apply now, click here! Read on to learn more about what is entailed in the apprenticeship and what some of our apprentices have to say about the program.

The Farm & Garden Apprenticeship is a part-time, hands-on, education in organic gardening, market farming, and applied permaculture.

EarthDance apprentices (aka “Freshman Farmies”) learn the skills of organic agriculture, through hands-on education in the fields and from experienced farmers and gardeners. EarthDance’s Farm & Garden Apprenticeship Program was developed to serve the needs of individuals seeking to learn organic growing techniques and practices, on a part-time basis. Some apprentices aspire to operate their own farms, while others plan to cultivate home, community, and youth gardens. The program incorporates instruction in techniques applicable to garden-scale production in addition to growing on a commercial scale. Tuition is $1000 for the 5.5-month program (full and partial scholarships & payment plans are available).

As an apprentice, you will  . . .

Grow food

You will engage in all aspects of vegetable cultivation, including bed preparation, transplanting, seeding by hand and with a seeder, weeding with tools, managing pests organically, fertilizing, composting, and working with cover crops. Apprentices will also learn about EarthDance’s production of flowers, herbs, pastured eggs, fruit, and season extension.

Learn from experienced farmers

Each field work shift begins with a field walk or “mini-class,” led by our Farm Managers. EarthDance farmers are dedicated to sharing what they know and providing apprentice farmers a rich variety of experiences. Weekly classes, led by EarthDance staff and other agricultural professionals, deepen your learning.

Practice permaculture 

Nature-inspired thinking and design (permaculture) guides EarthDance’s farming practices. Apprentices gain a foundational understanding of permaculture principles and build skills in related practices such as water management, sheet mulching, no-till, companion planting, forest garden guilds, herb spirals, and native planting.

Challenge yourself

Farm work, done in all weather conditions, provides rewarding physical challenge.

Enjoy the fruits of your work

Apprentices take home a weekly share of the harvest! You will also share the bounty with the community after learning proper harvest techniques and preparing produce for sale at farmers market.

Sell at farmers markets

Each Apprentice sells produce at market 1-2 times during the season. Gain the skills of direct marketing to the public.

Network with other farmers

The EarthDance Apprenticeship provides numerous opportunities to meet and network with other area farmers, including 5 tours of neighboring farms in Missouri and Illinois.

Become part of a supportive network of concerned food citizens

EarthDance promotes a strong sense of camaraderie among apprentices. Farmies often form close friendships in the field, and support one another’s endeavors after finishing the program.

Savor delicious experiences

Fresh veggies will inspire your creativity in the kitchen, while occasional potlucks bring the group together.

Plan your future agricultural endeavors

With classes like”Farming as a Business” and many opportunities to seek the advice of experienced farmers and gardeners, the EarthDance Apprenticeship provides support to help you advance toward your agricultural goals.

The Farm & Garden Apprenticeship Program takes place annually April-September

The program includes:

  • Part-time gardening and farm shifts
  • Field and Market training
  • Weekly Classes
  • 5+ tours of nearby farms and gardens
  • Training in permaculture techniques
  • Take home a weekly share of the harvest YOU help grow!
  • Subscription to “The Organic Broadcaster,” a publication of Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
  • Option to receive graduate or undergraduate college credit from UMSL.
  • Contact Chelsea at programs@earthdancefarms.org for details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the time commitment?

The program is 5. 5 months long, Mid-April-September. Apprentices commit 9.5 hours per week including 8 hours of field work (two 4 hour shifts) and a 1.5-hour weekly class.

What are the field shift days and times?

Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7 a.m.- 11 a.m. or 12 p.m.-4 p.m.

When are the weekly classes?

Classes are held on Tuesdays throughout the program from 6 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. Members of the public can register and pay a la carte for farm school classes. Find the class list here. 

What are you looking for in an apprentice?

First of all: commitment and passion for growing good food. A “shovel-ready” plan or goal for how you would use your agricultural education is great too. But we also love apprentices who view farming education as a means to discover their true path. EarthDance seeks to assemble a diverse class of individuals who can commit to the entire duration of the program and will use the experience to contribute to the good food movement.

What are your graduates doing?

Graduates of the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship are transforming the food scene in St. Louis and beyond. 77% of EarthDance alumni work or volunteer in sustainable agriculture. They are entrepreneurs, advocates, and good food citizens! Check out what some of our graduates are doing to grow the good food movement.

Testimonials

Reggae Singleton class of 2013

EarthDance helped me to bridge the knowledge gap from gardening to farming and has fueled my passion for growing, one that I nurture by sharing with others. My personal mission to bring healthier food choices and practices to my family and my community.

Mark Erker class of 2016

I went from a weekend gardener to a full-fledged farmer, and now I have a plan for my own farm, 1/4 acre by 1/4 acre.

Jamie Bryant class of 2010

Learning opportunities from farm tours and selling at farmers markets with EarthDance gave me the basic knowledge and courage to move (earlier than we had planned) and start our own market farm. I am currently farming one acre of vegetables at our farm, Blue Bell Farm.

LaTia Thomas class of 2015

The greatest lessons that I have learned and relearned on this farm are that life is beautiful, that I am so much stronger than I ever imagined, that laughing is amazing, and that sharing good wholesome food is one of the best ways to get to know other humans.

Interested in Becoming an EarthDance Apprentice?

Apply now: Click HERE for application instructions.

 

Come visit the Farm: Potential apprentices are encouraged to visit the farm on a tour or participate in a volunteer shift. Please contact Petra at volunteer@earthdancefarms.org.

 

Questions about the program? Please send an email to Chelsea at programs@earthdancefarms.org for more information.