Apprenticeship Training

Apprentices harvesting crops in the Hay Barn field at the UCSC Farm. Photo by Jim Clark

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. 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 and the Apprenticeship Alumni Map for examples of what Apprenticeship alumni have done with their training. Download a flyer about the Apprenticeship.

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.

Please note that the application period for the 2019 program, which begins in April 2019, is now closed. Updated application materials will be posted in late January 2019 for the 2020 program. Application deadlines for the 2020 program will be August 15, 2019 for international applicants, and September 30, 2019 for U.S. applicants.

See Also