New Beginning Farmer Program from the Center for Land Based LearningThe California Farm Academy training program, our 7-month, 250-hour, intensive training program for beginning farmers, has now graduated just under 80 farmers, and our current class of 20 got underway in mid-February. Coupled with six farm incubator locations (Farm on Putah Creek, Cannery Farm, 5th and C, Lake Washington, Cummins Way, and Food for Families Farm in West Sacramento), providing almost 12 acres of land for lease, our ability to provide technical support, mentoring, and networks for our growing beginning farmer cadre is quickly expanding. 70% of our graduates are farming, and we couldn't be more thrilled with these outcomes.
Nevertheless, we have realized a critical gap in our programming. We need to be able to work together, as a region, with other farms and organizations that train beginning farmers, so that we are unified in our approach. We also need to support our graduates for up to three years post training, to ensure their success with farming and employment goals. To that end, I am pleased to announce the formation of the Sacramento Valley Beginning Farmer Apprenticeship Program.
Introducing The Sacramento Valley Beginning Farmer Apprenticeship Program - A New Beginning Farmer ProgramThe Sacramento Valley Beginning Farmer Apprenticeship Program is a new collaboration between the Center for Land-Based Learning and Soil Born Farms, funded through a grant from the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the Orchard Hill Family Fund in 2015/2016. The program builds off the existing farmer training programs within each organization, and is being designed to offer in-depth, multi-year education, and land access to beginning farmers in Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties. The team will be working with the state's Department of Apprenticeship Standards to make the Sacramento Valley Beginning Farmer Apprenticeship Program the only accredited agricultural apprenticeship program in California. The program will encompass the current training program of the California Farm Academy, and broaden it to offer multi-year apprenticeship stages, and more individualized focus. The program offers on-farm and field experience, classes on various agricultural topics, visits to a number of diverse farms in the region as well as management and decision-making skills. In the second and third year of the program, participants can choose to apprentice with a local farmer, lease land themselves and launch their own business in the California Farm Academy farm incubator, or continue focusing on coursework. Regardless of their path, networking and technical assistance with agricultural professionals and farmers, advanced workshops and mentorship will be part of the extended support available in the second and third years of the program. The goal 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. For more information about this new beginning farmer program contact the Center For Land Based Learning.