The School of Adaptive Agriculture Practicum Program is for adults who have decided to enter the sustainable food system. You may not yet know what your role will be. But you want to be among the million new farmers, ranchers, and leaders this country needs in order to transform agriculture through creative, sustainable and profitable enterprises. Join us for a three month intensive residential training program on a 5,000 acre working ranch in Mendocino County, California. Programs start in April and July. Visit our website for more information.
The School of Adaptive Agriculture Practicum Program is for adults who have decided to enter the sustainable food system. You may not yet know what your role will be. But you want to be among the million new farmers, ranchers, and leaders this country needs in order to transform agriculture through creative, sustainable and profitable enterprises. Join us for a three month intensive residential training program on a 5,000 acre working ranch in Mendocino County, California. Our program combines experiential learning with living and working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers. Classroom based learning is designed to send students off with a comprehensive vocabulary, skill set, and understanding of the foundations of small scale agriculture. Weekly field trips contribute to a unique learning experience, giving students a well-rounded education that helps launch them into your career in the food system. Programs start in April and July. Visit our website for more information.
The school is unique in all that it has to offer. Based on a historic ranch in rural Mendocino County, the school campus includes a 1920s schoolhouse, library, outdoor kitchen, bathhouse, dining area, composting toilet, and workshop. Depending on the time of year, temperatures range from freezing to blazing. Students learn to live in a rustic, outdoor life, living and farming with the seasons.
- Students live in private 10′ x 12′ canvas wall tents equipped with solar power and fully furnished.
- Two showers with hot water are available after a long day working and learning, in addition to onsite laundry facilities.
- Despite the rustic setting, wi-fi is available on the main campus 24/7
- 5 days a week students cook meals together in an outdoor kitchen stocked with staples and farm fresh produce, meat and eggs (provided by the school).
Who Should Apply?
The School of Adaptive Agriculture is looking for a special kind of student. Someone who:
- Interested in practicing stewardship and being a part of positive change
- Asks thoughtful questions
- Is innovative, creative, driven, and collaborative
- Is excited about living rustically and rurally
- Is 18 years or older (no upper limit!)
- Does not necessarily have previous experience in agriculture
Our curriculum teaches sustainable, restorative, and regenerative practices for small farmers using context specific solutions. New theories and techniques are developing at a rapid pace and our curriculum keeps pace with the many methods of responsible agricultural practices. Students will be exposed to the historical, environmental, financial, and social contexts of food production, and asked to use critical thinking to create their own theories on sustainable agriculture.
The Practicum Student Program runs 5 days per week for 13 weeks, with sessions running from April to July, and August to October. Students schedule includes supervised field learning, lessons, meals, and chores.
Week 1 & 2: Orientation and Warm-up
- Students get to know the basic tools, methods and skills you’ll need going forward: the lay of the land, your new living space, keep-healthy-movement, firing up a wood stove on a cold morning, SOPs (standard operating procedures), and what’s a mattock, anyway?
- You’ll be framing some goals for yourself, laying out your learning objectives, and teaming up for a really big learning experience.
- Intentional communication is essential, so students and staff work together to build a positive environment.
Weeks 3 – 11
- Find your rhythm in the mix of field days at your placement site, classroom instruction, our famous field trips, and a balance of community and personal time.
- Field learning: You will be placed on one of our many host farms and get hands on direct training from mentors working in the field.
- Lessons: Lessons with staff and guest instructors take place weekly as discussion, demonstration, lab work, experimentation, lecture, and group projects.
- Field trips: Weekly field trips to outstanding farms, ranches, and businesses are an important part of the curriculum, building connections between students, mentors and experts in the area.
Weeks 12 &13
- Focus turns to completion, reflection and celebration.
- You’ll finish your personal projects and tie up loose ends on goals you set for yourself, with our support in planning your next steps
- One on one opportunities with experts to fill in gaps specific to your interests
- Community graduation dinner celebrates the friendships and opportunities you’ve built here, applauds your accomplishments, and launches you into what comes next.
The program’s core units are:
From seeds to soil to processing, students will learn all the necessary skills and systems that produce vegetables, grains, and fruits. This unit places heavy emphasis on soil science, soil building, and all manner of diverse cropping systems, including low and no till, mechanized approaches, and a variety of methodologies. Irrigation practices, seed saving, value added products, and composting are all covered as well.
Successful farmers must have a thorough understanding of the business landscape that surrounds them. Several decision making frameworks are covered to aid in setting goals and clarifying principles. This course focuses on smart business planning, marketing, enterprise analysis, and record keeping. We also cover aspects of legal regulations and land access. Without a solid system in place to analyze your work, you’ll be stuck playing the guessing game with your finances!
Good animal husbandry is rooted in a firm understanding of the behavior, anatomy, and physiology of the animal. This unit covers animal welfare practices, genetics and breeding, housing and shelter, feed and nutrition, holistic management and pasture-based systems, and the quality end products that result in good management. Low stress animal handling, and good planning are the underlying themes of the Livestock Unit.
A good farmer is his or her own plumber, electrician, mechanic, and carpenter. Being able to troubleshoot problems and develop your own infrastructure will save you the headache and the bill. This unit covers tool maintenance and operation, carpentry, welding, plumbing and electricity, in addition to lessons on engine repair. Students will complete design-build projects, creating the muscle memory and confidence necessary to do-it-yourself.
Admission is competitive and your completed application is important in our decision process. A completed application will include your resume, cover letter, complete contact and application term information, and thoughtful answers to the questions below. If you are requesting financial aid, submit a brief letter describing your financial situation, and the amount of support for which you would like to be considered.
Next steps – If the committee is interested in your application we will contact you to schedule an interview. After the interview, you will be notified by the committee whether you were accepted into the program. If you are accepted into the program a $400.00 deposit will be required to secure your spot in the term of your preference. Scholarships awards will be announced the week following acceptance decisions.
Application deadline: Thursday, February 14, 2019
Scholarship application deadline: Thursday, February 14, 2019
Term start date: Monday, April 1, 2019
Apply online: http://www.school-of-adaptive-agriculture.org/program/application/
If you have a question about the application, please contact us at office[a]adaptiveagriculture.org.