A famous edu­ca­tional proverb states, “Hear and For­get, See and Remem­ber, Do and Under­stand”. In this spirit, our pro­gram is focused on pro­vid­ing a hands-on expe­ri­ence that allows the con­cur­rent aca­d­e­mic stud­ies to come to life.

For 30+ hours each week, students are in the fields of the OFS Student Farm learn­ing about, and work­ing on, pro­duc­ing a wide vari­ety of organic crops that serve our community—and are offered for sale through a CSA pro­gram, farm stand, local grocers, restaurants, farm­ers mar­ket, and seed sales. The Farm Man­ager trains and guides students in group ses­sions and/or indi­vid­u­ally as needed, and students work both coop­er­a­tively and indi­vid­u­ally to accom­plish the farm work. This work includes all aspects of running the farm including bed prepa­ra­tion, plant prop­a­ga­tion, weed­ing, har­vest­ing, run­ning the mar­ket stand, cover crop­ping, caring for livestock and much more. Farm respon­si­bil­i­ties are rotated within the group to ensure that each par­tic­i­pant has an oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence all aspects of the farm. Once a foun­da­tion of skills and con­cepts has been estab­lished, par­tic­i­pants fur­ther develop their skills by tak­ing lead­er­ship over a portion of the farm and making farm man­age­ment deci­sions with feed­back and assis­tance from the Farm Man­ager. (Please note: accom­plish­ing farm work is a phys­i­cal activ­ity that requires par­tic­i­pants to be phys­i­cally active and out­doors on a daily basis for eight months. Before apply­ing, please con­sider your abil­ity to per­form this level of activity).

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For 10+ hours each week, par­tic­i­pants take part in classes and dis­cus­sions on the pro­duc­tion, busi­ness, eco­log­i­cal, and social con­cepts that lie behind the prac­ti­cal work. On Mon­day morn­ings, everyone heads out for a 'Farm Walk' where the class does a thorough observ­ation of the whole farm and dis­cusses changes in the fields, crops and livestock while strate­giz­ing man­age­ment options and plan­ning the upcom­ing week’s work. On Wednes­day and Thursday morn­ings we meet in the classroom for lectures and discussions based on our farming and business curricula, and we review and refine the farm’s busi­ness, mar­ket­ing, and record keep­ing aspects. We also check-in regularly to discuss and develop our com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and fos­ter­ a group dynamic that is pos­i­tive and pro­duc­tive. With a small class size of 12 students, our program fosters a friendly atmosphere that makes farming and learning fun!

In addi­tion to time spent on the farm and in the class­room, par­tic­i­pants work inde­pen­dently on their personal busi­ness plan and a group farm-based research project. After ini­tial group dis­cus­sions on the projects, par­tic­i­pants work inde­pen­dently on their own time and meet individually with staff every few weeks to review the progress made and deter­mine the next steps. When com­pleted, par­tic­i­pants share and present their reports to the group. Our goal for the busi­ness plan project is to sup­port par­tic­i­pants in thor­oughly ana­lyz­ing their per­sonal farm­ing goals and to help them cre­ate a real­is­tic plan towards accom­plish­ing them. The farm-based research projects will be focused on devel­op­ing or improv­ing aspects of the student farm.

While we try to be as con­sis­tent as pos­si­ble in our weekly sched­ule, due to the nature of farm­ing where so much depends on proper timing, total weekly hours may occa­sion­ally vary up or down slightly as the crops' needs require. Most pro­gram­ming occurs Mon­day through Fri­day, although par­tic­i­pants are required to help with week­end chores and farm­ers mar­kets on a rota­tional basis (gen­er­ally one of every 4 week­ends) as well as attend several sea­sonal fes­ti­vals and fundraisers.

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Curriculum

The Organic Farm School uses curriculum created by the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) as well as other resources. The CASFS curriculum is split into two modules; the Organic Farming and Gardening Curriculum and the Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability Curriculum, where topics covered include soil science, crop production, CSA management, land tenureship and much more. Other resources we use include; SARE's Building Soils for Better Crops, MISA's Building a Sustainable Business, and Richard Wiswall's The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook.

Tuition

Tuition for the 2017 program is $6500. While the actual cost of providing this program is substantially higher, grant funding and donations have allowed us to keep the cost for this eight-month intensive program at this reduced rate.

We often are contacted by aspiring farmers for whom this tuition continues to be prohibitive and we are fortunate to be able to offer several need-based scholarships to support these students. Applicants in need of a scholarship must successfully go through the school application process before receiving the scholarship application. Please contact us if you have any questions!

Program Dates

For 2017, the program will run 34 weeks from March 27th through November 17th