2019 Sustainable Agriculture Apprenticeship Program

Small-Scale Organic Vegetable Production and Research Apprenticeship

Location: CEFS’ Small Farm Unit at Cherry Research Farm, Goldsboro, NC
Required Commitment: 6 months, start date flexible
Apply Online: The 2019 application period has closed.

Overview of Research Experience:

The Small Farm Unit is a 4+ acre organically-certified vegetable farm with a greenhouse and three high tunnels for season extension research.  (Please note, the high tunnels are undergoing repair and construction at this time. An apprentice will have the opportunity to work on the tunnels as we update them, but only cover crops are being grown in them at this time.)  An apprentice working at the Small Farm Unit will learn how to farm using sustainable and organic practices.

A large part of the experience will be the planting, fertilizing, weeding, pest scouting, and harvesting of a full season of vegetables. An apprentice could also be involved in assisting in the setup and maintenance of on-farm research projects and the collection of data associated with these projects. The participant will learn about sustainable soil management, cover crop use, crop rotation, irrigation systems, and will be trained on the various equipment used on a smaller-scale farm.

What Specific Skills are Required for this Position?

While previous farming experience is not required, we seek individuals who are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and who are hard-working, motivated, have the ability to work consistently on repetitive tasks, enjoy physical labor, and have a positive attitude. Successful applicants will have the ability to take direction, show initiative, and work well in a team as well as independently. We desire someone with good communication and organization skills, strong attention to detail, and the ability to lift up to 45 pounds. This position works primarily outdoors, and activities will need to be completed under adverse weather conditions (cold, heat, humidity, rain, pollen) at all times. Biting insects, snakes, and poison ivy are present on our farm.

What Does an Average Week Look Like? What Might an Apprentice Encounter During this Time?

On-farm work typically from 8 am -5 pm (hours can vary depending on heat, rain, or special events). The day usually begins with a meeting with the manager to go over list of tasks for the day or week. Examples of daily tasks would include caring for transplants, planting new crops by direct-seeding and transplanting, turning on irrigation, harvesting, weighing and sorting produce for donation later in the day, weeding, tilling or cultivating with the tractor, and pest scouting. Other tasks may include mowing, composting, caring for tools and equipment, and assistance with record-keeping and crop-planning activities. In the past we would prepare “CSA shares” for a local non-profit organization that teaches cooking skills to interested families one day a week. The apprentice would be encouraged to participate in the class and cooking demonstration if he/she is interested.

The Skills you Acquire with the Apprenticeship Opportunity will Build a Solid Foundation for the Following Career Paths:

Working on an organic/sustainable vegetable farm, managing an organic/sustainable vegetable farm, running your own organic/sustainable vegetable farm, attending undergraduate or graduate school in horticulture, agronomy, or entomology, etc., working with the extension service, agricultural research.

What is Expected of Apprentices from Faculty and Staff on this Project?

The apprentice will be involved in all of the work that goes on at the Small Farm Unit. They will also be exposed to other research units at CEFS and will have the opportunity to volunteer time there if help is needed. The apprentice will be involved in all the research activities including planning, sampling, measuring, data management, and evaluation, which will provide a good understanding of sustainable agricultural research procedures. They will be encouraged to participate in informal teaching opportunities and discussions that take place in the field and to share ideas related to improving both production and research. The knowledge and experience gained are applicable to those interested in diverse small-farm management and/or sustainable agriculture research.

Other Requirements?

Apprentices are encouraged to live in Goldsboro area and have their own transportation. Housing may be available near the farm for a small monthly fee.

Learn more about the Small Farm Unit here.