California Farm Academy 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 California and the country. The California Farm Academy apprenticeship 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 equip beginning farmers with sufficient training, work experience, and business management skills to obtain a secure management position with established farms, or be successful at starting and sustaining their own small farm businesses. Note: Application is available in the How to Apply section below >>

Program Details

The California Farm Academy apprenticeship program requires completion of 3,000 hours of on-the-job training (OJT) and 220 hours of Related Supplemental Instruction(RSI) coursework. We are expecting that it will take apprentices around 30 months to complete the program. The apprenticeship program pays apprentices an hourly wage, starting at minimum wage ($10.50) and increasing by $0.50 every six months. The program will also pay for the California Farm Academy training program that apprentices are expected to attend during their first 7 months.

Apprentices will get the opportunity to select a farm that best fits their farming goals from a list of diversified farms and orchards in the Yolo and Sacramento counties. There will be a job interview process, that will include the farmer and ultimately the farmer will hire the apprentice(s) that best fits their operation and work needs. These farms include: Soil Born Farms, Say Hay Farm, Rominger Brothers Farms.

During the first year, apprentices will be part of Center for Land-Based Learning, California Farmer Academy 7-month training program while working on a farm. Hours and type of work will depend on the farm owner and/or manager of the operation. For more details and to get a better idea of your options, please see each farm’s description.

During the second year of the program apprentices will have less class hours and more hours of on the job training at their master farm. This will be a time for apprentices to continue learning on the job, alongside their farm mentors and fulfill the 3,000 hours of on the job training. During their second year apprentices will also attend classes, workshops and meetings that relate to their personal interests to expand on their knowledge gained through the CFA training program.

Throughout the program, apprentices will learn from farmers and farm managers a diverse set of skills. Of the 3,000 hours apprentices will spend a minimum of 75 hours in the following areas: soil management, tractor skills, planting, pest and weed management, irrigation and water management, harvest, post-harvest and packing, sales and marketing, regulations, equipment repair and fabrication. The other time will be allocated based on the apprentices learning goals and the farmer’s needs on the farm, depending on the time of year and labor available.

Master Farms

A Master Farm is where apprentices will be placed for their On the Job training hours. Soil Born Farms is one of the Master Farms for the Sacramento area. View other options for Master Farms  >>

Soil Born Farms as a Master Farm

At Soil Born Farms, apprentices will be exposed to all aspects of food production. You will learn about propagation,greenhouse management, irrigation, soil management, harvesting, marketing and many other associated skills. During your time here you will be engaged in all parts of the production.

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 specialized responsibilities throughout the season. These 4-5 week-long rotations focus on: orchard management, animal husbandry, pest management, packing/farmstand, irrigation, and farm management.

Our produce is processed and packed for distribution to several outlets in the county of Sacramento including a weekly on-site farm stand, 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 class topics and topics covered 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

Before submitting your application, please carefully read all the material presented above. Consider how well the apprenticeship program might fit your farming goals. It’s important that applicants have a realistic idea of what the program involves as well as their ability to fully participate from beginning to end.

To apply for the 2018 Soil Born Farms apprenticeship, please fill out the application >>
Note: Applying to the apprenticeship program does not guarantee a spot at Soil Born Farms. Applications are reviewed by farms and CFA staff to ensure the best fit possible between a host farm and an apprentice.

Please send your completed application current resume and two references by February 1, 2018. However, we encourage interested individuals to submit the application as soon as possible. Positions will be filled on a rolling basis, and there is likely to be fewer positions open after December 2017.