Graduates at Work

Apprenticeship graduate Matthew Raiford runs his family's sixth-generation farm in Brunswick, Georgia

Since the Apprenticeship began in 1967, more than 1,400 students have graduated from the six-month, full-time course. Many have started their own organic farms and market gardens; others share the skills they've learned through urban gardening projects, youth gardens and farms, school and college farming programs, and apprenticeships on their own farms; a number of Apprenticeship graduates work in international programs in sustainable agriculture; many have helped advance organic farming through marketing and policy efforts.

Here are some examples of how Apprenticeship Program graduates are using their training. You can learn more about Apprenticeship graduate's work at the Grow a Farmer website's map of alumni projects.

Onika Abraham directs Farm School NYC, which trains New York City residents in urban agriculture through a 2-year certificate program and a wide range of individual courses.

Kana Azhari is the is the Farm Manager and Educator for the youth urban farm project Acta Non Verba in Oakland, California.

Thom Broz founded Live Earth Farm in Watsonville, California, growing organic produce for a 700-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, regional farmers’ markets, and local restaurants

Mark Cain owns Dripping Springs Garden in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, where he farms vegetables and flowers for farmers’ markets and other outlets.

Vanessa Campbell and Alex Brown grow a variety of vegetables, fruit and flowers on their Full Sun Farm, a 17-acre operation located in the Big Sandy Mush Valley in Western North Carolina, near Asheville.

Katie Davis is the Farm Director for the Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama.

Emily Freed is the regional production manager for Jacob's Farm/Del Cabo, Inc., one of the largest producers of organic culinary herbs in the world. She also founded and owns Farmer Freed Culinary Salt Blends.

Luke Girdling founded Cyclops Farm in Oceanside, California.

Matt McCue founded and manages Shooting Star Farm in Fairfield, north of San Francisco. An Iraqi veteran, Matt is active in the Farmer-Veteran Coalition’s efforts to create farming opportunities for ex-military men and women.

Jered Lawson and Nancy Vail started Pie Ranch, an educational farm located near Pescadero, California that connects students with the source of their food.

Kevin Loth and his wife Charuth manage the 34-acre Shadow Brook Farm near Lincoln, Nebraska, and were instrumental in creating a demand for fresh local, organic produce and hand-crafted cheeses in the Lincoln area.

Matthew McDermott manages Seattle Tilth Farm Works, a 34-acre site outside Seattle providing small farm business training and other production and educational programs.

Kim Murchison and Josh Slotnick started Clark Fork Organics in Missoula, Montana, which provides organic produce to area markets, natural food stores, and restaurants. In 1997 Josh co-founded an academic program at the University of Montana called Program In Ecological Agriculture and Society (PEAS), a part of Garden City Harvest. The PEAS farm operates an 80 member CSA and sends 15 to 20 thousand pounds of food annually to the Missoula Food Bank.

Leo Orleans is the Nursery Manager for Planting Justice, a food justice organization developing permaculture gardens and offering job training in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Emily Parsons manages Everett Family Farm in Soquel, California, which has been a springboard for a number of apprenticeship graduates who have gone on to start their own farms, including Mike Irving, who founded and runs Fifth Crow Farm in Pescadero with fellow alumni Teresa Kurtak and John Vars.

Ted Purdy is the Youth Farm Coordinator at FOOD for Lane County in Springfield, Oregon. The Youth Farm in a 3-acre educational farm that combines youth services with hunger relief and small-scale organic farming.

Matthew Raiford (pictured above) runs the 6th-generation family-owned Gilliard Farms in Brunswick, Georgia with his sister Althea. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Matthew also teaches culinary skills, runs The Farmer and the Larder restaurant with Jovan Sage, and founded the Apprenticeship's Farm-to-Fork annual fundraising dinner. 

Amy Ridout (Rice-Jones) manages the Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden, the teaching farm for the College of Marin in Marin County, California.

Cathrine Sneed developed a gardening program at the San Francisco County Jail, and went on to launch the post-release program The Garden Project to serve former offenders. The Garden Project today is nationally recognized and provides on-the-job training in gardening and tree care.

Lucia Stephen developed and coordinates the Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship and Mentorship Programs–the first multi-faceted farmer training initiative of its kind in Eastern Canada, providing curriculum-guided farm apprenticeships, farmer-to-farmer mentorship, and educational/celebratory events, such as the annual Beginner Farmer Symposium. For more information, visit www.growafarmer.ca

Clara Villalobos is the Education Director at Soil Born Farms in Sacramento, California, a project founded by Apprenticeship alumni Shawn Harrison and Marco Franciosa.