Apprentice Program

Training the Next Generation of Farmers
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About

Interested in a career in agriculture, food systems and/or public health?  The Apprentice Program is an entry level, hands-on training, and skill based education in sustainable agriculture, Farm-to-School and local food systems for a full growing season. It provides baseline knowledge and experience needed to own and/or manage a diversified vegetable growing operation.

As an apprentice you will receive training and work under Colonial School District’s Farm-to-School Manager that will expose you to daily life of farm operations, agricultural communities and skills to sell products at local farm markets, wholesale school account and CSA shares.  Your training will be supplemented with farm tours, educational classes and opportunities to visit other farms throughout the region as part of the Second Harvest’s Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture’s Beginner Farmer Training Program as well as opportunities for independent study and growing your own food.

The program is divided into two phases:

Phase I April 1st to September 31st: a cohort of apprentices will work and study together for six months on Colonial School District’s Penn Farm Project. Time commitment is approximately 25 hours a week. During this time, you will learn the following:

  • Field work: planting, irrigating, cultivating, weeding and trellising crops
  • Harvesting: washing, recording and packing vegetables for CSA shares, farmers markets and wholesale outlets
  • Green/Hoop house management: maintaining planting, transplanting, harvesting logs and records
  • Field trips: preparation for field trips to children’s garden for local schools and group visits, provide assist to seasonal educators during field trips as needed
  • Operating equipment: tractors, lawn mowers, weed whackers and other equipment as necessary
  • Off the farm events: occasional shifts at local farmers market (Wednesday nights), event planning and outreach
  • Marketing: writing newsletter/blogs, providing materials for social media posts, etc.

After phase 1 is complete, apprentices will be evaluated and 1 will have an opportunity move on to Phase II of the program. 

Phase II October 1st to September 30th: is a yearlong opportunity with the farm where the apprentice will use the skills and knowledge gained over the past 6 months to understand off-season farming and planning that goes into preparation for the next growing season, be able to build Penn Farm’s capacity, improve community health and launch new programs1, in addition to developing their own business plan. 

1Program must be approved by program and district level administration

Application Process

Previous farming experience is recommended but not required.  We are interested in applicants who have a true passion for creating sustainable food system and interest in making change in healthy food access for under-served communities.  This program is open to individuals from a variety of different backgrounds and education.  We encourage applicants from agricultural, public health, animal and food science and nutrition or individuals who are looking for a career change! 

Apprentices will be an employee of Colonial School District and must have an acceptable criminal background check, no entries on child abuse registry and clean drug screening.  To apply, please review the job description and submit an application via Applitrack at https://www.applitrack.com/colonial/onlineapp/.

Applications will available starting in the middle of December until all positions are filled.

“The apprentice program is the next evolutionary step for Colonial School District’s Penn Farm Project.  We have been providing students with hands learning opportunities for the past six years but we are at a point now where it is important to make an impact on the larger regional food system.”

Scott Schuster RD, LDN, Outreach Specialist, Colonial School District

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