Want to learn to farm without giving up your MetroCard? You still have a few days to apply for an apprenticeship slot at the Youth Farm in Crown Heights. Applications are due Sunday.
The program is tight. Run by Molly Culver, who helped found Just Food’s Farm School NYC, the annual apprenticeship brings about eight people — who need no farm experience, just passion and commitment, as well as a modest $1,100 enrollment fee — to the one-acre farm at the High School for Public Service. The carefully structured program runs 20 hours a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays April 20 to November 14 and will confer high-level skills for a production-oriented farm with real pace and push that Culver says brings the realities of an experience you’d have on a farm upstate.
The farm was born as a light bulb idea from the principal for High School for Public Service and has grown into an outdoor classroom for students throughout the academic year. The apprenticeship program extends learning opportunities beyond the student body.
Apprentices spend about 70 percent of their time in hands-on learning in the field, including a harvest each morning — for the CSA on Mondays, market on Wednesdays and restaurants on Fridays. But each afternoon is classroom time, when a sit-down workshop covers everything from crop planning and soil science to irrigation and compost. Apprentices also rotate through management of components like the greenhouse and the market, so by year end they’ll know much more than just how to sow seeds and pull weeds.
Culver also coordinates regular exchange field trips with other urban farm apprentices across the city, rotating visits to Brooklyn Grange, Eagle Street, Randall’s Island Farm and the Bushwick Campus Farm so apprentices in different programs get to know one another and can exchange ideas across varying models in the wider network.
Culver calls the experience an urban stepping stone to a rural experience for “urbanites who want to get involved but aren’t quite ready to move upstate.” In this intermediary place, she says, “you can get your toes wet before taking the real risk of jumping into a completely different career.” The program, which is run in partnership with Green Geurillas, has already graduated about 20 alums who have gone on to do everything from grow vegetables up at Glynwood to manage the youth farm at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
The apprenticeship runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:oo p.m. and Culver’s looking for people who are excited to learn and bring passion and commitment. Applications are due Sunday.