Apprentices of ACORN's 2013 Grow A Farmer Program participate in a soil test demonstration at Open Sky Cooperative in Sackville.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN)’s Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship Program is now accepting applications for the 2014 season.
“Collaborating with a diverse team of 10 long-standing, certified-organic ‘host-farms’, this curriculum-guided, farm-based program offers six-month intensive placements–from May to October–for people who are pursuing a career in organic agriculture,” states Lucia Stephen, program coordinator.
Offering a dynamic mix of knowledge, skills, and community connections, the 2014 program will provide participants with a unique combination of field learning and “classroom” work. Whether on or off the farm, teachings will explore both the practical and the more theoretical aspects of farming - ranging from soil fertility and marketing, to the importance of farm business planning.
Participants also benefit from attending regular farm-based workshops, field-tours and major ACORN events, including the Beginner Farmer Symposium (August 2014) and the annual three-day organic farming Conference and Trade Show (November 2014).
“While formal schools can teach you the nuts and bolts about farming, it really is the experience of farming that will instill the depth of understanding that is required to know whether farming is right for you,” states Sara Burgess, 2013 Grow A Farmer apprentice. “My experience was great. From moving through the changes and needs of a demanding growing season, to networking with fellow young and long-standing growers, my participation in the Grow a Farmer program provided immense knowledge and direction for my future as a young farmer.”
There’s no doubt about it, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, over 75 per cent of Canadian farmers will face retirement within the next 10 years, leaving a looming void in agricultural production and fertile farmland in need of succession. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of aspiring producers, keen to start their own farms, but who lack adequate agricultural education and farm experience. There is a strong need for comprehensive training and resources to help bridge this gap, though the key is in finding a suitable path to take. And learning from the best.
Applications for the 2014 Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship Program are now posted on the Grow A Farmer website. For full details, please visit www.growafarmer.ca. Scholarships are available and people are encouraged to apply early as limited positions are available.
Since 2000, ACORN has been the key organization for information on organic agriculture, eating organics, and connecting all the parts together in order to advance the local organic sector in Atlantic Canada.