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Are you ready to level up your farming skills? RFC’s Apprenticeship Program is an advanced on-farm learning experience, combining hands-on training and skills-based education for those ready to dive into the art and business of sustainable agriculture. This program can help you further your farming career by learning the skills needed to manage and run a diversified farming operation, and deepen your understanding of ecological and sustainable agricultural practices.
This full-immersion program is designed for those who have completed RFC’s Internship Program, a similar farm training program, or have at least one full season of farming experience (or equivalent). It is for people who have a foundation of farm knowledge and skills but are looking to deepen their managerial experience, agricultural skills, and conceptual understanding, with the goal of managing, owning, or operating a farm enterprise in the future. Similarly to the Full-Season Internship Program, participants train full-time at one of RFC’s partner Host Farms. Participants also engage in a series of weekend workshop intensives in RFC chapter locations around the state including in-depth farm tours with real working farmers focused on advanced agricultural skills and knowledge, attend local area classes and tours, and have the opportunity to take on independent projects. The Apprenticeship, like the Internship, examines the economical, ecological and social sustainability of farm practices demonstrated, and continues to build on these themes.
COMMITMENT TO EQUITY AND INCLUSION
Rogue Farm Corps is committed to an ongoing learning process around privilege, power, inequality and systems of oppression. RFC is working to ensure that our programs are welcoming and accessible to communities who are under-represented as farm operators in Oregon, including women, Black, Indigenous and People of color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+ individuals, low-income individuals and immigrants. Our desire to create a more equitable food system is reflected in RFC’s programs and collaborations. You can read our Equity Statement here.
ON-FARM TRAINING AND HANDS-ON LEARNING
The majority of the program is focused on learning by doing through hands-on participation in the day-to-day operations at the host farm through the season. Over time, Apprenticeship participants take on more responsibility in certain areas at their host farm. Depending on the host site, these areas could include helping to manage people or processes, food processing, tractor operation, conducting field walks and observation, record keeping, product deliveries, marketing, irrigation, animal care, and/or general farm maintenance.
Rogue Farm Corps works with host farmers to create on-farm curricula unique to each host farm which represent the diversity of skills and concepts taught at that farm.. This curriculum is used to guide and evaluate the on-farm learning experience. RFC staff Chapter Coordinators facilitate evaluations and skill assessments with participants and host farmers using this on-farm curriculum twice during the season to ensure that training goals are being met.
CLASSES AND FARM TOURS
In addition to the hands-on training at their Host Farm, Apprenticeship participants attend classes, farm tours, and discussions. See a sample schedule here. Participants attend a series of 4 weekend intensives facilitated by RFC in partnership with expert farmers and agricultural service providers such as Oregon State University Extension’s Small Farms Program. Weekend intensives include farm tours, focused classes, and time for peer-to-peer networking. The weekend intensive curriculum focuses on farm business planning and management. The weekend intensives rotate among chapter locations so that apprentices have an opportunity to host each other and experience other growing regions around the state. Apprentices will also attend 4-6 classes / farm tours / discussions integrated with the RFC Internship series. Opportunities for additional local classes and farm tours may arise depending on participants’ interests and organizational partners.
Every participant will give an end-of-season presentation and submit a short report. This can be a summary of their experience, focus on a few aspects of their season, or be about a specific independent study project that they undertook. If the participant desires an independent project, they choose either a research project or from a list of physical projects prioritized by their host site.
Rogue Farm Corps staff will support program graduates with regular check-ins after graduation in order to help connect graduates with resources, create and update goals, and generally further graduates’ objectives as they continue along their farming trajectory.
Through the weekend intensive and other classes and tours, participants will have the opportunity to meet and network with farmers, agricultural professionals, and other beginning/aspiring farmers and ranchers.
START/END DATES, HOUSING, FOOD, & STIPENDS
The Apprenticeship Program begins between February 15 and March 15 and concludes typically between November 1 and December 15, with exact start and end dates to be determined with the host farm. Host farms generally provide Apprenticeship participants with on-farm housing, food, and $750-$1050/month educational stipend.
To successfully complete the program, participants complete 1,150-1,700 hours of on-farm training, attend all classes, farm tours, and discussions, with no more than three absences, participate in two on-farm evaluation sessions, give a final presentation and written report, and give feedback to RFC via a program exit evaluation.
TUITION & SCHOLARSHIPS, & PAYMENT DATES
The Apprenticeship Program tuition fee is $650 annually. Scholarships are available (Scholarship deadline is January 5, 2021).
Upon accepting a placement offer on a Host Farm, apprentices pay a $250 non-refundable deposit to secure their placement. An additional payment of $400 is due on June 15. RFC can work with individual participants to set up a payment plan if requested in writing.
The tuition cost that participants pay helps to fund the educational event series, program outreach, developing materials, facilitating orientations and evaluations, administrative costs, and general support from the RFC staff Chapter Coordinator who is available throughout the program and beyond.
The Apprenticeship begins with an On-Farm Orientation with your Chapter Coordinator at the Host Farm with the RFC staff Chapter Coordinator. From that official start date there is an initial 45-day trial period. During the trial period, apprentices and host farmers can terminate the relationship if it’s not a good fit. RFC tuition fees are refundable during the 45-day trial period, with the exception of the $250 non-refundable deposit. Once the trial period is successfully completed, the apprentice and host farmer are committed to the mentor/mentee relationship for the rest of the season, and the full amount of the tuition is required even if the apprenticeship is terminated later in the season.
Before you start your application, please read the Apprentice Handbook. Here you will find a complete program description, including all requirements, policies, and expectations. You’ll be provided with a printed copy of this handbook upon acceptance into the program.