Training & Job Opportunities for New Farmers
We are continually adding to this resource list. If you know of, or run a training program for farmers that is not listed below, please contact email@example.com.
Job Search Websites:
- Friends of Family Farmers’ jobs page: Oregon-wide,
- Jobs in sustainable agriculture education collected by SAEA,
- CNRG: Portland-area
- Ten Rivers Food Web newsletter: Linn, Lincoln & Benton Counties.
College Programs in Oregon:
- Blue Mountain Community College – Agriculture and Farm Business Management
- Chemeketa Community College – Horticulture, Agribusiness, Winemaking, Wine Marketing and Vineyard management
- Clackamas Community College – New Certificate in Urban Agriculture.
- Oregon State University, its online program, and its sister program at Eastern Oregon University
Farmer Planning Courses:
These courses are usually offered as a series that take a step back from the specific skills used in running a farm and focus on the larger picture of starting a farm business.
- Agricultural Business Management Program (Eugene) – a 2-year program offered by Lane Community College Small Business Development Center covering basic farm business start-up, business planning and more advanced topics like operations management, human resources, sourcing and continuous improvement. The class is co-taught by OSU Extension Host agent an a business specialist, and includes farm visits and on-site specific advising sessions. There is no deadline – classes are open-enrollment. Sessions are 6-9 pm, October through May/June.
- Building Farmers in the West, Regional Collaboration of University Extension Programs: This 8-session course focuses on developing a business and marketing plan for a small farm business.
- Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management, OSU Extension Small Farms Program: This 8-session workshop series provides participants with tools and knowledge of the financial, biological, and human aspects of a farm business. Participants hear from expert farmers and other agricultural professionals in order to gain perspective on the interconnectedness of each component of the farm, assess their resources, and develop a whole farm plan.
This type of course focuses on the skills and knowledge of agricultural production and marketing. Usually these courses have a large component of hands-on training, but do not require a full-time commitment like a traditional farm apprenticeship.
- Beginning Urban Farm Apprentice (BUFA), OSU Extension and Multnomah County: BUFA includes classroom and hands-on training in production and marketing along with providing participants with two levels of commitment to apprentice-style education on two educational farms. This program emphasizes hand-scale farm production in an urban or peri-urban setting. Application period is open from November 15 to January 15. Program begins at the beginning of April.
- Growing Agripreneurs, OSU Extension Small Farms Program: This program combines classroom education with season of field-based learning in small farm production and marketing. Participants utilize OSU’s Franklin Teaching Plots to acquire hands-on production skills and are involved in all aspects of marketing through Rogue Valley Local Foods’ online marketing program.
Incubators are educational farms that can provide beginning farmers with some or all of the following while they develop their farm business: land, equipment, resources, advice and education.
- East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) Incubator: The incubator is designed to provide the means by which farm workers and other emerging farmers can prove profitability and win financing to start an independent farm business. The goals include facilitating successful transition to the next generation of farmers, expanding markets for locally-grown products, and fostering a strong stewardship ethic. It is still in development and is planned to launch in 2013. Contact Jean Fike at EMSWCD.
- La Esperanza Farm, Adelante Mujeres, Forest Grove: This 12-acre farm is divided into ¼-acre plots that are farmed by participants and graduates of Adelante Agricultura, the Spanish-language farmer education program run by Adelante Mujeres (listed below under ‘Courses for Targeted Populations). Participants receive technical assistance and marketing support along with access to land.
- Southern Oregon Farmer Incubator helps beginning farmers start and sustain their businesses while providing needed fresh produce to the Rogue Valley community. The program is a collaboration between the Oregon State University Small Farms program and Thrive in partnership with Friends of Family Farmers and Rogue Farm Corps. Participants can opt to participate in one or more program elements focusing on: Hands-on farming experience and skill-building, Agricultural theory and practice, Business planning and skill-building, Market access and subsidy, Land link services, Peer mentoring groups.
Apprenticeship and Internship Programs:
Apprenticeships Are accredited training programs in which the apprentice earns a “degree” in a particular trade. They are not exempt from minimum wage requirements. Interested parties must form a state apprenticeship board in order to create an apprenticeship listed in the list of federally-recognized apprenticeships. This federal list includes several types of agricultural internships, but the state of Oregon does not currently recognize any apprenticeships in agricultural fields.
Internships: The Bureau of Labor and Industries distinguishes internships at for-profit businesses from “work” using a 6-factor federal test. Among other things, interns cannot displace regular employees, and the business may not directly benefit from the intern’s work, and may in fact be hindered. Interns are exempt from minimum wage requirements, so for-profits that offer these work-based learning opportunities need not pay them.
- Farm Next Internship Program, Rogue Farm Corps (RFC), Jacksonville, OR: Rogue Farm Corps partners with Rogue Community College to provide hands-on training, classroom learning and farm-based education on a diverse network of commercial family farms in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. In addition to classroom course, participants earn one college credit per every thirty hours worked on their host farm. Application deadline is March 15th. Program lasts from April to October.
- Farm Internship, Zenger Farm, Portland: Zenger’s Farm Internship program offers interns all the opportunities of a traditional farm internship with the unique benefit of working on a nonprofit educational farm. Farm Interns participate in all aspects of small-farm production, learning to grow annual crops from seed to harvest and care for farm livestock. Apprentices receive on-the-job training and hands-on education throughout the course of the growing season. They are also in integral part of the Zenger Farm community, working with education staff, youth program participants, and volunteers. Interns receive a monthly stipend and weekly farm share.
- Organic Farm School (OFS) at Greenbank Farm (Greenbank, WA) – The OFS trains aspiring farmers to run successful, ecological and community-focused farms and uses its eight-acre organic farm as a real-world example. During the 7.5-month residential program, students spend one third of their time attending weekly classes, going on field trips and engaging in the writing of a personal farm business plan while spending the balance of their time co-managing the OFS farm. Through this balance of academic and experiential studies, program participants learn and experience all aspects of starting and running a small-scale organic farm. Program lasts from mid-March to the end of October. 2013 tuition costs $5,200 and scholarships are available.
Legal Alternative to Internship and Apprenticeships Many farms want to train the next generation of farmers and at least partially benefit from the intern’s labor. Many farmers struggle to pay “intern”-employees minimum wage while they teach them their craft. It is important for new farmers to understand the physical demands of the program, the time commitment required, the compensation schedule and rate, and the living situation provided (if it is provided).
For more information about how to train the next generation of farmers while complying with wage requirements, read the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s description of farm internships.
For more information on how to hire interns, see FLAG’s great workbook on farm internships>>>
Classes and Workshops:
These events focused on specific topics that are relevant to farmers. Examples would be a composting workshop or class on applying for NRCS grants. They may be offered on a rotation basis or be one-time opportunities. Organizations offering these opportunities include:
- Small Farms Conference, February in Corvallis
- Small Farm School, September at Clackamas Community College
- Master Gardener Program – in 29 counties
- Individual commodity or county extension agents
- Friends of Family Farmers
- FarmON! Oregon
- Oregon Tilth
- Tryon Life Community Farm (TLC Farm)
- Zenger Farm
Farms, Private Businesses, and Listserves:
- Earthen Hand Natural Building workshops using cob, adobe horno, adobe brick, earthen paints and more.
- Joelee Joyce, Sweet Home, OR – Earthen building,
- Beaver State Permaculture, Corvallis – workshops and resources
Courses for Targeted Populations:
- Adelante Agricultura, Adelante Mujeres, Forest Grove: A 12-week course, taught in Spanish, which covers production, marketing, and business aspects of farm management. The course includes both classroom education and hands-on education at La Esperanza Farm.
- Refugee Farmer Programs, MercyCorps NW: This includes a collection of farmer education and support programs offered to immigrant populations. The programs include education, marketing, support, and assistance with land access.