NOFA-VT, in cooperation with Green Mountain College, is partnering with area farms to pilot a training program for experienced apprentices modeled after the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training or CRAFT program. CRAFT was started in 1994 in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires, and has expanded to programs in eastern Massachusetts, western Connecticut, Ontario and the Upper Midwest. This pilot program will work with 10 "advanced" apprentices that:
- have completed an apprenticeship in the GMC curriculum;
- have at least 2 years of farm apprenticeship experience;
- have completed two years of study.
As part of this program, apprentices from all participating host farms will gather during the growing season at different farms for a demonstration or workshop on specific topics that may include: soil management; pest identification; grass management; planting and transplanting; mechanical equipment safety; harvesting and post-harvest handling of crops; and basic marketing.
The workshops and farm visits will end with a social gathering to give apprentices an opportunity to network with their peers. At the end of the season all apprentices and farm mentors will be invited to celebrate and evaluate the season and opportunities for new farmers, such as: access to land, leasing options, production issues that came up, business planning, micro-loan programs, individual development accounts and resources available for beginning farmers in Vermont.
The peer-learning groups created by the on-farm workshops will create networking and shared learning opportunities between apprentices and experienced farmers, allow farmers to develop and improve mentoring skills, give apprentices a broader experience through visiting many farms, and increase the skill level of beginning farmers in organic and sustainable agriculture.
In this pilot project we hope to give advanced apprentices:
- A broader experience than they can receive on their host farm alone.
- Provide a network of peers and mentors to help apprentices connect with others who share common goals.
- Increase the skill base in organic and sustainable agriculture.
If you are an advanced apprentice and are interested in participating in this pilot program, please contact:
Philip Ackerman-Leist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynda Prim: email@example.com