Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Apprenticeship Program

Program Background

For the past decade, Soil Born Farms has run its own apprenticeship program for beginner farmers in the region and trained over fifty people. In 2016 Soil Born Farms teamed up with the Center for Land-Based Learning to create the first accredited apprenticeship program in beginning farm and ranch management in California and the country. The Program is a collaboration between the Center for Land-Based Learning, Soil Born Farms, the Department of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) and Los Rios Community College District. The goal of this apprenticeship program is to provide a foundation of knowledge and skills that will help apprentices gain a foothold in the industry and advance their farming careers by providing practical experience, valuable skills, connections to farmer mentors, and an industry-recognized credential.

Note: Application is available in the How to Apply section below >>

Program Details

The Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Apprenticeship Program is a formal apprenticeship registered with the California Department of Apprenticeship Standards that combines paid on-the-job training with job-related instruction. The program lasts approximately two years, and upon completion of the Program, the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards graduates apprentices to a Journeyman level in the occupation of a Beginning Farm and Ranch Manager. Apprentices will complete 3,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and 250 hours of coursework. The curriculum includes a core set of classes that covers the fundamentals of agriculture in California as well as individualized coursework targeted to the apprentice’s career goals.

The Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Apprenticeship Program is a Veterans Administration-approved training program, meaning eligible veterans may access VA benefits, such as housing allowance funds, under VA educational assistance programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In addition to funds from the VA, Veteran Apprentices receive one-on-one support from the Farmer Veteran Coalition and access to their services.

More details about the program can be found here.

Being an Apprentice at Soil Born Farms

Soil Born Farms is one of the farms that employs apprentices for their on-the-job training. At Soil Born Farms, apprentices will be exposed to all aspects of food production and learn about propagation, greenhouse management, irrigation, soil management, harvesting, marketing and many other associated skills. Farm managers work closely with apprentices in the performance of daily farm activities. In this type of learning environment, apprentices have the ability to observe and ask questions during the work day about anything related to ecological farming. Priorities and problems are discussed during field walks, and the farm managers give informal training on topics related to tasks as they arise.

In addition to maintaining and harvesting crops and working as part of a field crew, apprentices will have other specialized responsibilities throughout the season such as orchard care, pest management, post-harvest handling and Farmstand shifts. As a non-profit farm and education center, Soil Born Farms also requires apprentices to occasionally participate in site events and other related educational programs that support food access and food education goals.

Our produce is processed and packed for distribution to several outlets in the county of Sacramento including a weekly onsite Farmstand, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and retail and restaurant sales.

Each apprentice will receive a compilation of readings on sustainable agriculture topics which parallel topics covered in the classroom and out in the field. These readings are meant to strengthen and support apprentices’ learning throughout the season.

Other Information

Apprentices will be responsible for Sunday chores once every 4 to 6 weeks. This includes irrigation and greenhouse duties. Apprentices will also be expected to work some weekends in the case of special events at the farm. Apprentices must have their own health care coverage to engage in this apprenticeship.

Farming Apprenticeship Testimonials

Get a first-hand glimpse into what it’s like to be a Soil Born Farms apprentice by reading testimonials from some of our former apprentices >>

How To Apply

Applications and additional information are available on the Apprenticeship Program website. Applications to the Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Program are reviewed by all participating farmers looking to hire an apprentice. Soil Born Farms is not planning to hire an apprentice for the 2020 season and will not be reviewing applications until fall 2020.