Apprenticeships

Being an apprentice is the most involved, in-depth way to participate in Growing Growers.

There are three main components to being an apprentice:

1. Work on your host farm

Once you are paired with a host farmer, you’ll come to an agreement about what kind of work you’ll do with and for them over the course of the year. These kinds of expectations will vary between host farms and between apprentices – it’ll be important to hammer out these details at the beginning, even though responsibilities will likely shift and adapt as the season moves along.

By working alongside your host farmer, you’ll gain practical, hands-on knowledge about specific growing techniques, equipment they use, processes that help them track planting and harvesting schedules, and more. These hours that you spend working for your host farmer may be paid or unpaid – each host farm has a different situation, although many apprentice positions are unpaid. Regardless, there’s no substitute in farming for actually getting down in the dirt to see how things work.

To browse a list of host farms, click here.

2. Mentorship with your host farm

What makes an apprenticeship different from working as a regular farm hand is the mentorship you’ll get from your host farm. The program compensates your host farm to provide you with at least eight hours of one-on-one mentoring, where you’ll be able to cover more of the big picture, background concepts that go into running a farm. From seed ordering to crop planning to recordkeeping to business management considerations – this is where you’ll have the chance to ask all sorts of questions about the less obvious parts of farming.

3. Training at workshops and events

The Growing Growers Learning Network is filled with knowledge-packed, high-quality, resource-filled workshops and events. Core workshop topics include crop planning and seedling production, soil management, small farm equipment and irrigation, integrated pest, disease, and weed management (IPM), postharvest handling and food safety, and farm business planning.

In addition to these core six workshops, we offer a wide array of educational opportunities for different kinds of learners and growers. These events include farm tours, farm and market field days, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and networking events. Participants from all pathways are welcome to any and all of the events; some events will require a fee to participate.

Apprentices are required to attend at least four of the six core workshops, but of course we hope that you would prioritize to coming to all of them. You’ll receive at least one book along with each workshop, as well as a variety of other relevant publications. Books that have previously accompanied workshops have included: “Sustainable Market Farming” by Pam Dawling, “The Market Gardener” by Jean-Martin Fortier, “The New Organic Grower” by Elliot Coleman, “Building Healthy Soils for Healthy Crops” by Fred Magdoff and Harold Van Es, “The Farmer’s Office” by Julia Shanks, and more.

Click here for a full list of workshops and events this season.

Matching

Apprentices should begin by filling out the initial interest form. If you already know that you want to be an apprentice, you can communicate that in the introductory module. You may even already know of a farm or grower you’d like to apprentice with – that’s great! We facilitate the matching process to help achieve the best possible matches for both apprentices and host farms.

If you aren’t sure that being an apprentice is right for you, still complete the initial interest form; our personalized coaching process will help you determining which pathway to participation is best for you.

Once a host farm and an apprentice have decided to pair up for the growing season, they will be asked to submit an agreement form, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding expectations for the season. Apprentices’ unique responsibilities with their host farms will vary in hours and kind of work; some apprenticeships may be paid, but most are volunteer positions. All apprentices will attend the workshop series over the course of the growing season, not missing more than two of the six workshops. Host farms are also encouraged to attend as they are available – there is no additional cost for apprentices or host farms to attend workshops.

There is a $250 participation fee for apprentices. This fee covers program and workshop costs and many resource materials that will be provided over the course of the program. The fee can be paid in installments, and there are a limited amount of program scholarships available. See below for more details.

Disclaimers: Upon submission of application materials, apprentices will be informed of conditional acceptance into the program, pending a background check and successful matching with a host farm. Results of a background check might not disqualify an applicant from participating in the program, but may impact the process of matching with a host farm. Program staff can’t be held responsible for the success or failure of a match, although we will do our best to ensure the best possible matches.

Program participation fee

It costs $250 for apprentices to participate in the program. This fee may seem high, but it is actually much lower than comparable programs elsewhere in the country. This fee covers costs to run the program, a serious plethora of resources that you will receive at workshops, and it contributes to the long-term sustainability of the program. A payment plan can be established if needed.

There are a limited number of scholarships available for individuals who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and who demonstrate financial need. Please contact the program manager if you have questions about the fee.

Questions?

Contact Lyndsay Feather, program manager:

(316) 660-0145 | lfeather@k-state.edu