Urban Edge Sustainable Farmers (UESF) is a full-time residential training program run by First Generation Farmers, a non-profit, women-led farm growing organic vegetables and cut flowers in Brentwood, California.
In 2019, the course runs from February 25 to November 4, with one 5-day break in early July.
Beginning farmers in training (BFTs) learn, work, and live as a group, raising vegetable row crops on FGF’s 13-acre organic plot and marketing this produce through FGF’s established sales channels. Alongside agricultural instruction, BFTs also receive a thorough introduction to farm business fundamentals, such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, filing taxes, and how to access land and capital.
Course instruction is provided by FGF staff and its partners at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and University of California Cooperative Extension. BFTs also learn from working alongside the Cecchini family—4th generation farmers who are successfully bridging their deep roots in agricultural tradition with adaptation to 21st century sustainable practices and changing market demands.
Program activities run Monday-Saturday working/learning anywhere from 6-8 hours each day, with a 1-hour midday break. On weekends, BFTs are responsible for farmers’ market and watering duties on a rotational schedule.
BFTs are expected to participate fully in all scheduled program activities.
Farming involves strenuous physical work! BFTs will prepare field beds; sow seeds; transplant seedlings; weed, thin, and water crops; harvest, wash, pack, weigh, and store produce; load and unload trucks for market; and perform various other physical tasks. Additional chores include rotating shifts for greenhouse management and residential cooking and cleaning.
FGF sells its produce primarily through a farm stand on the FGF campus, at farmers’ markets, and to local restaurants. Proficiency in marketing practices and skills—from food handling and presentation, to pricing and customer engagement—is critical to the success of any farm start-up. BFTs are expected to approach their marketing duties with as much commitment and desire to learn as they bring to every other aspect of their farming education
UESF’s primary purpose is to train beginning farmers and support them through the first several years of establishing their own urban-edge farm businesses.
The Admissions Committee will select those candidates who best demonstrate:
• Readiness to commit to rigorous, hands-on training in a full-time residential program;
• Thoughtful consideration of the mission and distinct characteristics of both FGF and UESF;
• Clear intention to apply their training to future work that will strengthen sustainable agriculture—through farming, agripreneurship, teaching, advocacy, community leadership, or some other avenue.
No prior experience is necessary. Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
Read more about UESF and link to the application here: http://www.firstgenerationfarmers.org/UESF
*UESF is committed to serving aspiring farmers with limited resources, military veterans, and those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, including women, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, and immigrants and refugees.