Apprenticeship Training

Apprentices harvesting crops in front of the tent cabins at the UCSC Farm.

The Center offers practical as well as academic training in the techniques of agroecology and organic farming and gardening. The CASFS FArm & Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture (see below) is the oldest of the Center's programs, offering hands-on training at the UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden. Academic and practical training in agroecology and sustainable agriculture are also offered through UCSC undergraduate opportunities, public workshops cosponsored by the Friends of the UCSC Farm and Garden, and international courses coordinated by the Community Agroecology Network.

The Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture

The Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture provides training in the concepts and practices of organic gardening and small-scale farming. This full-time program is held at the Center's 30-acre CASFS/UCSC Farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UCSC campus. Run in conjunction with UCSC Extension, the Apprenticeship course carries 20 units of Extension credit for the approximately 300 hours of classroom instruction and 700 hours of in-field training and hands-on experience in the greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and fields.

Since its founding in 1967, the Apprenticeship has developed into an internationally recognized program that blends the virtues of experiential learning with traditional classroom studies. Topics covered during the six-month course include soil management, composting, pest control, crop planning, irrigation, farm equipment, marketing techniques, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) practices.

The Apprenticeship model of combining theoretical and practical instruction has been replicated both locally and internationally as apprentices go on to train others in hands-on projects. Graduates have also established their own commercial farms and market gardens, run community gardens for inner city and prison populations, and developed school gardening programs. Many graduates take part in international development projects, including programs in Nepal, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and throughout Central and South America. Others have raised the standards of the organic food industry through work with certification programs and retailers. See the Graduates at Work page for examples of what Apprenticeship alumni have done with their training.

If You're Thinking about Applying

Please read the material in the Information/Application section for a full description of the Apprenticeship and contact information. International applicants should also read the Information for International Applicants.

The actual tuition for the 2015 Apprenticeship will be $6,000. Tuition was set at $10,650 for 2015, but thanks to generous grants and gifts, no one accepted for the 2015 program will pay more than $6,000. Please note that full and partial scholarships and tuition assistance are available, and the program accepts AmeriCorps and GI Bill funding. See the Apprentice Scholarship/Tuition Assistance Support page for details.

Application deadlines and notification dates for the 2015 program are:

    • Deadline for U.S. citizens: September 30, 2014. You will be notified by email no later than October 15 that we have received your application.
    • Notification of Acceptance: You will be notified by email on December 15, 2014, 5 pm (Pacific Time)


    • Deadline for International Applicants: August 15, 2014
    • Notification of Acceptance for International Applicants: November, 2014