The Stone Barns Apprenticeship Program offers an immersive and diverse farming experience for growing farmers. Apprentices will gain practical production experience across our agroecological system. Under the guidance of the farm management team, apprentices will engage in the operational management of diversified field crop, soil greenhouses, multi-species livestock, compost, as well as formal and native landscapes. Our integrated production provides a unique opportunity to explore the interconnections across a wide range of agricultural disciplines and market outlets. Guided by our Agroecological Principles, the farm shares its resources to generate balanced production systems, wild habitat and community support.
Apprentices participate in the Center’s educational outreach, engaging with diverse audiences, including farmers, chefs, weekend visitors, and high school day-campers.
In addition, apprentices will participate in classes and workshops led by Stone Barns Center’s experienced farmers and other food and agricultural experts in the region. The aim is to create literacy around agroecology and give you the tools to feel confident as a farmer. Some workshops will include travel to other farms in the region through the apprentice’s participation in the Hudson Valley Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) program and other Hudson Valley partnerships.
CURRICULUM & RESPONSIBILITIES
The agroecology apprentice will learn operational management skills for our innovative crop and livestock systems. These systems include a seven acre vegetable field, four acre mixed grain ley rotation, half acre winter garden with unheated movable greenhouses and half acre soil-based four-season greenhouse, multispecies livestock, silvopasture, compost, and edible landscape. Each apprentice will rotate throughout the farm, spending approximately two-thirds time with the crops systems and one-third time with livestock. All apprentices will function as a part of the larger farm team. Time will be spent assisting the farm managers with daily operations.
Through the course of the season, the apprentice will develop knowledge and skills in these key areas:
Crop and animal rotations, cover cropping, compost systems, soil testing and amendment program, and operational management.
Diversified crop production
Seasonal crop trials, crop health, direct seeding and transplanting, weed management, irrigation systems, harvest, market preparation, record keeping, and operating relevant machinery.
Basic propagation techniques, including seed starting for vegetables, flowers, herbs, and sprouts.
Year-round in-soil greenhouse systems
Management and season extension for high-value crops in soil-based greenhouses and operation of a diversity of hand tools and precision seeders for permanent bed systems.
Four course rotation
Long term zero input mixed rotation of grains, legumes, row crops and perennial pasture.
Diversified edible landscapes
Basic care and maintenance of fruit and nut crops, beekeeping, landscape and habitat management.
Intensive, multi-species pasture management for ruminants and poultry.
Poultry brooding, swine farrowing, and lambing.
Forest and silvopasture management
Ecological practices, including multi species livestock integration.
Processing and food safety
Vegetable wash and pack, poultry processing, and multi-species butchery. Practical commercial experience combined with in depth training provides a unique opportunity for apprentices to learn critical skills in a diverse farming environment while engaging in a broader food system conversation.
Requirements for Admission
Applicants should be committed to learning and passionate about developing their career as a farmer and food system leader. Preference will be given to applicants with at least one full season of farming experience and a background in a production setting. Strong commitment and effort is required and solid time management skills are essential. Apprentices will need to feel comfortable in an educational setting. Teaching or public speaking skills are a plus. Additional prerequisites include the ability to lift at least 50 pounds, be outside in adverse weather conditions, and to function positively in a team and as part of a collaborative work environment. Parts of the apprenticeship require intensive physical effort.
The program runs five days per week and includes weekend rotations. This is a nine-month apprenticeship, running from March 5, 2018 to November 30, 2018. There are eight agroecology apprentice opportunities offered this year. Each receives a bi-weekly stipend of $1,250 (gross before taxes), which includes funds for housing. In addition, Stone Barns voluntarily provides workers compensation and short-term disability insurance to apprentices.
The deadline for applications is October 27 but can be flexible for interested candidates. Promising candidates will be interviewed and invited for a mandatory in-person trial day during November and early December.
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