Serious about organic farming? Apprenticeships immerse you in this field of study where you learn by doing. On a working farm, you directly experience how to care for the land day to day, including yourself and the community that the farm serves. Living and working day to day on the land teaches the new farmer how to respond skillfully to the needs of growing great food amidst real life constraints of time, climate and resources. Peer relationships and the unique makeup of any year’s cohort becomes a significant source of learning. Our apprenticeship includes four domains – the art and discipline of market gardening skills, living well in community, tending one’s inner growth, and engaging the study through reading, and education through reading, discussion and recommended assignments.
Since 1997, we have trained many successful new farmers who are now farming across the country. By offering the key ingredients for developing a vibrant small scale farm and inner integrity, our program is particularly designed to help those exploring this lifestyle as a career. Some graduates of our program now with their own farms include: Carolina Lees of Corvus Landing Farm, Stacey Botsford of Red Door Family Farm, Rosie Sweetman of Little Wings Farm, Leslie Witter of Root to Rise Gardens, Matt & Terra Hall of Rhizosphere Farm, Shannon Overbaugh of Winter Green Farm, Andrew Still & Sarah Kleeger of Adaptive Seeds, and Caleb Thompson & Ashley Petersen of Sungrounded Farm among others.
While each week there is a guiding theme, class or field trip, and assignment, students spend much of their time engaged in hands on field experience – sowing seeds, planting, weeding, harvesting and preparing vegetables. They also dig and fertilize raised beds, learn to sell produce at farmers markets, keep records, and write for our CSA newsletter. At Horton Road, we have a strong work ethic where we value showing up to the field ready and willing. Throughout the season, students are expected to make their best effort to gain mastery over different tasks, develop an understanding of the working farm, and become an integral part of a seasonal crew. Unlike conventional classroom learning, apprenticing integrates body and mind through direct experience – developing endurance and flexibility, cultivating knowledge through mindful observation, and building intuition by living the farmer’s life.
Our goal each year is to foster a diversified, productive, ecologically sensitive and personally enriching learning environment. We have made considerable effort in our program to create focused, energetic and limited work periods to accomplish our days tasks so that apprentices know exactly what’s expected of them and can enjoy a fair amount of free time relative to many farm operations.