Apprenticeship Training

Apprentices harvesting flowers in the Alan Chadwick Garden.

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

Watch a video about the Apprenticeship produced by UCSC undergraduate students as part of UC's Global Food Initiative

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. The Apprenticeship training program offers 300 hours of classroom instruction and 700 hours of in-field training and hands-on experience in the greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and fields. The UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems offers a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture upon successful completion of the program.

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, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) practices, farm labor issues, food policy, equity and access within the food system.

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, assisted with community gardens in inner city neighborhoods, facilitated gardening programs within schools, and worked with agricultural job training programs for people that have been incarcerated. Many graduates take part in international development projects, including programs in Nepal, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines 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 note: We are updating our application materials for the 2018 program, and will have the updated application forms available by late February. 

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.

We anticipate the 2018 course fee to be similar to that of 2017 ($6,000). Please note that full and partial course fee waivers are available, including support for military veterans. The program also accepts AmeriCorps funding. See the Course Fee Waiver Support Opportunities page for details. 

Below are the application deadlines and notification dates for the 2018 Apprenticeship program, which begins mid April, 2018. All applications are reviewed together after the application period has closed.

    • Deadline for U.S. citizens: September 30, 2017. You will be notified by email no later than October 15, 2016 that we have received your application.
    • Notification of Acceptance: You will be notified by email on December 15, 2017, 5 pm (Pacific Time)

    • Deadline for International Applicants: August 15, 201
    • Notification of Acceptance for International Applicants: November, 2017

See Also