About the 2015 Apprenticeship

 

Growing Food and Farmers: Pass It On

We are excited to offer this opportunity – to learn how to grow food (and flowers!) organically on a real working farm – in the 7th season of EarthDance.  EarthDance has created a cooperative learning and working environment well-suited for individuals who want to gain practical organic farming and gardening skills on a part-time basis. While it is ideal to immerse oneself in farm work completely (full-time) to thoroughly understand what it takes to farm organically, this apprenticeship is intended to serve as an introduction to the principles of sustainable agriculture without requiring a complete lifestyle change. Apprentices are required to commit a total of 9.5 hours (minimum) per week to field walks, farm and market labor. In addition, the apprenticeship program includes on and off-farm enrichment classes/ workshops, field trips to local farms, and being a member of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program!

As an EarthDance apprentice, you will be introduced to many aspects of organic agriculture.  Skills and concepts covered include: techniques of plant propagation; enhancing soil fertility; natural strategies for pest, disease, and weed control; as well as harvest and market experiences. Our vision for each class of Freshman Farmies is a community of people who will learn from one another as much as they will learn from the land.  To this end, we are seeking a group of apprentices diverse in age, ethnicity, and gender who will each bring high levels of passion, enthusiasm, dedication, and creativity to the program. We are also interested in bringing together individuals with a wide variety of skills, experiences, and goals to further enrich our program (i.e. farming and gardening experience is not a prerequisite to participating in the apprenticeship program).

Since 2010, EarthDance apprentices have been members of the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)[1] program.  CSA is an innovative marketing model for small farms; the farmer sells ‘shares’ of the farm’s harvest to members who pay up front for a season-long share.  Therefore, in addition to receiving top-notch training alongside our farm staff, as an EarthDance apprentice you’ll receive a weekly share of the produce that we’ll grow together.

We wish to emphasize that the EarthDance apprenticeship program is a serious commitment to undertake. While we have created it as a part-time program, the 9.5 hour time commitment must be met each week[2] to fulfill the apprenticeship requirements. In March, you will choose your field work shifts, and in early spring you will be assigned 1-2 market shifts, spread throughout the program (mid-April – Sept).  Attendance at field walks and enrichment classes is critical to gaining the full benefits of the experience, and as such, you will be expected to attend no less than 80% of these.

Apprentices often cite the field trips as being one of their favorite aspects of the program; learning from other farmers and seeing their operations firsthand is an exciting part of the program.  In previous sessions, field trips included visits to: Three River’s Community Farm, in Elsah, Il, where farmer Amy Cloud discusses the equipment and infrastructure that make her 150 member CSA so successful; Merryl Winstein’s Webster Groves homestead, where she raises goats, sells raw milk, and conducts cheese-making workshops; Bellews Creek Farm, where Paul Krautmann has explored a wide variety of cultivation methods and marketing models in his 20 years of farming; and many more!

Finally, as part of our mission entails community engagement, apprentices are invited to represent EarthDance by working at one public event in the community – such as at the St. Louis Earth Day festival, public farm tours, featured farmer dinners, health fairs, etc.

In your application, we want to learn about YOU.  We want to hear about how you have come to be interested in organic farming and gardening and sustainable food systems.  We also want you to consider this program as much as we are considering you. The 2015 program will span from mid-April -September, and consists of practical farm and garden based training, including regular field walks led by the Farm Manager; enrichment learning (from farm-scale composting to greenhouse management); operating a 50 member Community Supported Agriculture program; selling at farmers markets; and field trips to local farms.

 

WHO:
Perhaps you?
  • 20-25 Farm Apprentices, the 2015 Class of Freshman Farmies
  • 4+ Sophomore Farmies (returning apprentices from former seasons)
  • Program designed and led by EarthDance staff
  • Curriculum collaborators and guest instructors
WHAT:
Field work, CSA, field trips, farmers markets, & enrichment sessions
An opportunity to learn how to grow food organically on a real working farm – not far from home! Freshman Farmies commit a minimum of 9.5 hours per week to the program – which includes field walks and farm and market labor. Additionally, on-farm enrichment sessions and field trips to local farms are held monthly. Plus, beyond receiving education and training in sustainable agriculture, you’ll also receive a weekly share of the harvest as part of our CSA!
WHEN:
Program runs mid-April -September
  • Program begins mid-April 2015 and continues through the end of September.
  • Weekly classes take place on Tuesdays from 6:00 – 7:30pm
  • Field work takes place 4 days/week—Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You will have seven shifts to choose from to participate in field work.
WHERE:
Mueller Farm, Ferguson, MO 63135
The EarthDance Farm & Garden Apprenticeship will take place on 3 acres of ground (EarthDance at the Mueller Farm), on South Dade Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. The Mueller Farm has been in organic production since 1883, making it the oldest organic farm in Missouri. The farm was named a Ferguson Historical Landmark in 2003.
WHY:
To grow food and farmers for the region
This program was developed because the need for small-scale organic growers is increasing every day.  There is also a great demand to learn the skills of organic farming. The EarthDance Organic Farming Apprenticeship is designed to meet both of these needs – grow more affordable, healthy food for the region and train more individuals in organic growing techniques.
HOW MUCH:
$750
The application fee is $25, nonrefundable. Thanks to the generosity of donors and foundations, enrollment in the apprenticeship program is only $750 per person for the entire 5 1/2 month season, and includes a weekly CSA share during the harvest season. The full tuition can be paid in 3 installments of $250.00, due by the end of each month, March-May. A limited number of need-based full and partial scholarship are available. Transportation costs for field trips are not included in this fee.