Farm location: 5854 Vera Cruz Road, Emmaus, PA 18049 Google Map 610-391-9583 ext. 16
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New Farmer Training

Seed Farm apprentices take part in a 9-month program designed to train new farmers in all aspects of managing a diversified vegetable farm. Apprentices are given decision-making responsibility for our two-acre market garden at the Seed Farm site in Emmaus, PA, from seed to harvest to market. Participants learn a variety of skills, including: business and production planning, risk management, soil fertility management, safe operation of farm equipment, disease and insect management, harvest and post-harvest handling, and marketing. On-farm experiential learning is complemented by formal classes through Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Beet thinning  High tunnelPhoto credit Allison Czapp.

Meet our 2014 apprentices

Educational Components of our Program

Production Training

  • Greenhouse
  • Seeding
  • Transplanting
  • Irrigation
  • Soils
  • Cover crops
  • Good Agricultural Practices
  • Record keeping
  • Risk management
  • Pest management
  • Weed management
  • Season extension
  • Harvest/ post-harvest
  • Compost management

Crop Project

  • Develop a comprehensive crop plan.
  • Each apprentice responsible for crop selection, fertility, pest management and marketing of a selected crop.

Equipment Training

  • Tractor Safety and basic operation
  • Small tools for efficiency
  • Tractor based cultivation, seeding,  etc

Formal Courses

  • Exploring the Small Farm Dream
  • Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production
  • Vegetable Business Planner

Business & Marketing

  • Market research
  • Insurance options
  • Assessing financial resources
  • Farmers' Market management
  • Wholesale account management
  • Value-added products
  • Enterprise budgets
  • Business structure
  • Business planning
  • Special events
  • Group/volunteer facilitation
  • Community relations

 Field trip

 

Time Commitment

DeVidaApprentices receive an average of 20 hours of training per week. The weekly schedule consists of a full day of production training every Saturday as well as two additional four-hour blocks during the week. Saturday sessions are structured learning opportunities formulated for the whole group. Weekday on-farm work blocks will be dedicated to crop projects (ie planting, hoeing, managing diseases/pests and harvesting your crop), management areas and equipment training.

In addition to the standard weekly on-farm schedule, apprentices learn other important
aspects of running a farm business by participating in off-farm learning opportunities:

  • Farmers' market shifts: five consecutive Sundays (moving from helper to manager over the course of the rotation)
  • Exploring the Small Farm Dream: 4 weekday evenings in April 
  • Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production: 6 afternoon classes and 6 evening classes
  • Vegetable Business Planner: 6 weekday evenings in September/October

Sample weekly schedule:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8:00-12:00         Work block*  All-day on-farm class Farmers' Market**
12:00-4:00     Work block*    
4:00-7:00   PSE course**          

 *Work blocks are scheduled by apprentices and Farm Manager at the beginning of the season. **These training activities are not held every week.

Work-study Option: Work-study apprentices have the opportunity to gain more experience on the farm while earning back up to as much as tuition payments. Actual amounts depend on labor needs on the farm and apprentices' ability. This is a great option for beginning farmers with little experience on a commercial vegetable farm.

Equipment

Requirements

  • One year of farming experience on a diversified vegetable farm.
  • A site visit with our Farm Manager/Educator.
  • The intention to start or manage a sustainable farm business.
  • All apprentices are expected to have a strong work ethic, commitment to detail, ability to take direction and also work independently when necessary.
  • Dedication to cooperative working and sustainable agriculture.
  • The ability to work well with staff and other apprentices.
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds.
  • Ability to work in all weather conditions, especially heat.
  • 20+ hour per week availability.
  • Access to reliable transportation.

Application Schedule 

  • Applications due: November 15th
  • If additional spots remain after November 15, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

"This institution is an equal opportunity provider."

Tickets on sale for The Seed Farm's 4th annual Farm-to-Table DinnerAugust 18th, 2014

Equipment Demo Day 8-6 **FREE** for farm apprenticesJuly 29th, 2014

Scaling Up: Increasing Profits by Increasing Efficiencies, Product Quality and Safety and Adding Farm to Institution Sales. on 10/23/2014July 28th, 2014

Can our local farms meet the growing demand for local food?  In the Lehigh Valley three million dollars of additional production are needed for the needs of institutional sales alone. Join us for

Have a Question?

Contact Us Online or Call 610-391-9583 ext. 16

Farm Address:
5854 Vera Cruz Rd Emmaus, PA 18049

Mailing Address:
Lehigh County Ag Center 4184 Dorney Park Road Suite107 Allentown, PA, 18104

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