Apprentice Farmer Program
The Apprentice Farmer Program is a farm incubator program that aims to serve as the launching point for individuals interested in starting their own farming enterprise. This two-year, residential program provides farming entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and assistance needed to ensure a solid start to their farming career.
Land, equipment, tools, and mentorship are provided to qualified applicants so they can develop a business plan, establish accounts, build capital, and fine-tune skills. The apprentice farmers will grow alongside the talented North Farm staff and other apprentice farmers, sharing ideas, techniques, and labor.
Who should apply?
This program is designed for individuals with ample farming experience who are ready to start their own farming enterprise. While technical assistance is available, this is not a training program. (For more information on beginning farmer training options, see our Novice Farmer Program.) This program is open to individual farmers, as well as farming couples/partnerships.
Structure and fees
The program is designed to admit three apprentice farmers each year, allowing for a total of six apprentice farms on site. Due to limited infrastructure, we must currently limit apprentice farmers to vegetable and small fruit production, with future potential for small livestock operations.
Housing is provided for a small fee to all participants who desire to live on-site. Participants are not required to live on-site, and many options are available in Chatham, Munising, and Marquette. Participating farmers may be asked to live in a cooperative housing situation. Please be advised that it is strongly suggested that participants live on-site, as The North Farm staff cannot be held responsible for participants’ crops in inclement weather.
Applications for the 2016 program are now open!
Novice Farmer Program
The Novice Farmer Program is a year-long, residential beginning farmer training program that combines different teaching styles to provide a breadth of learning opportunities to participants. Designed to appeal to all learners, the program blends hands-on production experience with traditional and online classroom instruction to provide participants with skills, experiences, and knowledge that will help them advance in the sustainable agriculture industry.
Who should apply?
This program is open to all individuals interested in sustainable, organic, and/or northern climate agriculture. This is a training program, meaning individuals with limited or no experience can participate, though it is wise to have some exposure to farming and food production prior to enrolling. Individuals who want to expand their knowledge of food systems, vegetable production, and farm management are encouraged to apply.
Structure and fees
This certificate program, provided through Michigan State University, is modular in concept. This will allow for the content to serve two different types of students: those learners who want to string together all of the required modules to earn a certificate; and those who want to use individual modules to gain specific knowledge and experiences.
Updated fees for the Novice Farmer Program will be available in 2015-16.
The North Farm, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, will offer a variety of topic-specific workshops and trainings focused on sustainable agriculture. These opportunities are open to the public and will be offered throughout the growing season at The North Farm and partnering farms.
Workshop topics will include some of the following:
- Soil Health - fertility management in organic systems, soil testing and interpretation, cover cropping and crop rotations
- Season Extension - hoophouse construction, hoophouse production, hoophouse management, low-cost season extension technologies, in-field season extension, variety selection
- Organic Vegetable Production - fertility management, compost production, transplant production, organic pest management, crop planning, tool and equipment selection and management
- Post-Harvest Handling and Food Safety - efficient harvest/processing of vegetable crops, food safety/GAP standards, risk management and documentation for food safety, cold storage technologies
A complete list of available workshops and information on registration is available.
Internships are designed to give college and university students the opportunity to experience first-hand what it takes to be a organic vegetable farmer. Students will develop learning objectives with their academic advisors, and internship programming will be tailored to allow students to achieve these goals. Students will experience daily vegetable production activities, educational program development, marketing and selling of farm products, and operation management.
How to participate
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