FarmsNext Description

FarmsNext is a full season of hands-on training and skill-based education in sustainable agriculture for aspiring farmers and ranchers. Through an innovative and cooperative model, FarmsNext combines up to 1500 hours of field training with a mentor farmer, 75 hours of classroom learning with agricultural professionals and expert farmers, 15 tours of local farms, and opportunities for farm-based independent study on a diverse network of commercial family farms in Oregon’s scenic Rogue and South Willamette Valleys.

FarmsNext is an immersive experience that will leave students with a deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, a foundation of entrepreneurial skills, and practical knowledge to plan for and start their own farming operation.  Students will live and work full-time on a host farm, receive ongoing training, and learn in-depth skills from their mentor farmer.

The companion classroom component, farm tours, discussion circles, and independent study will deepen the experience and expose students to the vast array of knowledge and expertise in our farming community. In addition, students in FarmsNext are offered an unparalleled sense of community and social networking as they engage in the daily life of a vibrant agricultural economy.

FarmsNext offers opportunity for hands-on training in:

•    Organic vegetable, herb, seed and flower production at various scales.

•    Marketing techniques, including direct marketing through farmers markets, restaurant sales and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

•    Raising livestock, including cattle, goats, poultry, sheep, and hogs.

•    Farmstead dairying, including cheese making, with cows and goats.

•    Farm-based education and agri-tourism opportunities.

Education Components:

1. Field-based training and on-farm work experience (30-40 hours/week)
The majority of this program is focused on learning by doing, while under the close supervision and mentorship of your host farmer. Students will work both cooperatively with the host farmer and independently to develop skills and accomplish the daily tasks
and farm work. These tasks will vary according to each host farm and it’s production methods.

Students will be provided with skill-based training curriculum unique to their host farm site. Host farmers will offer close supervision and consistent mentoring to promote mastery of the basic skills needed to operate their farm. Students will be exposed to all aspects of the farm operation and develop skills throughout the season. Students will be expected to keep a weekly reflective journal on what they are learning and experiencing. Two times per season, RFC’s Education Director will conduct on-site evaluations to ensure that the education and training goals are being met and agreements are being honored.

2. Practical Skills Classes (Weekly at beginning of the season, followed by two to three classes per month)
Students in the FarmsNext program will join students in Oregon State University Extension’s Growing Agripreneurs program for group classes and lectures taught by agricultural professionals and expert farmers. Some classes are held in a traditional classroom setting, while others are held in the field.

The curriculum includes the following topics:
History of Food & Agriculture
Introduction to Horticulture
Greenhouse 101
Direct Seeding & Transplanting
Soil Science & Fertility
Crop Rotation & Cover Cropping
Irrigation Systems
Entomology & Plant Pathogens
Tractor Cultivation & Implements
Post-harvest Handling & Food Safety
Compost
Weed Management
Seeds & GMO’s
Biodynamics
Permaculture Principles
Goat Husbandry
Grazing Systems
Farmland Conservation
Poultry Management
Food & Farm Advocacy
Winter Farming
Intro to Business and Marketing

3.  Farm tours (2-3 times a month throughout the farming season)

Once the farming season is underway, students will have the opportunity to meet, observe, learn and potentially work with other farmers in the Rogue and South Willamette Valleys.  Farmers will lead a farm tour while incorporating time for questions, discussions, and demonstrations, allowing for students to have a more interactive learning experience.  These farm tours and on-farm classes will expose the students to a number of different operations, techniques and farming styles.

4.  Discussion Circles and Potlucks (4-5 times throughout the farming season)
Approximately once a month, we will hold informal discussion circles and potlucks on topics such as Food and Farm advocacy, Agricultural Politics, Living Rurally, and Natural Building.  These evening get-togethers provide social interaction and an opportunity to talk about some of the other issues that are surrounding our food system and the way we live.

5. Independent Study
RFC’s Education Director will work with each individual student and host farmer to co-create mutually beneficial independent study projects to be accomplished throughout the season. Independent study can include hands-on projects and research opportunities.

Program Details:

Program begins- March to April, 2014

Program ends- October to November, 2014

Number of students accepted: 20

Application Deadline: March 15th, 2014 (early applications are encouraged to ensure placement)

Minimum Length of Stay: Varies from farm to farm, with 6 months being the minimum and 9 months the maximum. Students must work between 1200 – 1500 hours in field to complete the program.

Room and Board: Varies from farm to farm, but you can expect decent housing and staples to be covered on all participating farms.

Skills Desired: Varies from farm to farm.

Stipend: Farms will offer a stipend of $400-$600/month.

Tuition: The tuition fee for FarmsNext program is $1500. A $500 deposit will be required upon placement, with additional payments due on June 15th and August 15th, 2014. Other payment plans can be arranged on an individual basis.

Credits: Students have the option of enrolling in Rogue Community College’s Professional Skills Training Course to receive college credits for the FarmsNext program. Additional tuition fees and paperwork are required for this option. These credits can be applied towards an Associates Degree or a Certificate Program at Rogue Community College.  Whether or not these credits transfer to another academic institution depends on that institution.

Process: RFC’s Education Director will guide successful applicants through the process of enrollment and placement on a host farm site. Final placement decisions are up to the individual farmers. Details of work expectations, living situations, stipends and other issues are worked out between individual farmers and students.  Please follow the proper channels and contact Rogue Farm Corps first instead of going directly to our participating farms.

As a student in FarmsNext, you will work hard.  You will learn from a diverse community of mentor farmers, agricultural specialists, and food system professionals, while living and farming in one of the most beautiful places in the country.  Learn more about our participating farms and fill out an application today.