Sep 17, 2021
Washington Organic Farm School applications accepted in October
Washington State’s Organic Farm School in October will begin accepting applications from students.
Situated on a rural island in the Pacific Northwest, the 10-acre, solar-powered farm is certified organic and offers its experiential training program from April through October. The school’s executive director, Judy Feldman, wrote at length about the school for Organic Grower earlier this year.
Next year’s class will be selected by December 2021, according to a news release from the school.
The program provides a practical and comprehensive education in small-scale organic farming. Guided by experienced farmer-instructors, trainees learn through hands-on management of the farm, plus regular observation walks, field trips, and classroom studies (both in-person and virtual), according to the news release.
Participants are from 21 to over 60 years old, many transitioning from past careers ranging from finance to medicine to education, according to the release. One graduate was even destined to become a professional athlete but instead answered the call to become a farmer.
The curriculum is designed for aspiring farmers who envision themselves owning or managing a small organic farm, according to the news release. Trainees grow vegetables, seed crops and cover crops as well as pastured poultry, sheep and pigs. They then sell farm products to the community through a CSA program, a farmer’s market, local grocers and a weekly farm stand. The classroom work focuses on crop and livestock production, business planning and direct marketing.
A wide range of practical skills taught include basic mechanics and carpentry, how to use small and large equipment, greenhouse propagation, as well as planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing, and record keeping. Personal one-on-one coaching includes the creation of a farm business plan where professional dreams are fully explored, according to the news release.
Increasingly, post-grad opportunities include farm incubator sites, farmworker jobs and modest land leases. Tuition for the seven-month program is $5,000. However, no one should forego applying because of financial need, as the school has established a student-support fund. To apply visit organicfarmschool.org.
Above, the class of 2020 brings in one of many fall harvests at a social distance. Photo: Judy Feldman