January 14, 2018

The Organic Farm School creates opportunities for future farmers

As the Organic Farm School prepares to welcome it’s ninth class of students, they are able to offer tuition assistance and post-graduation placement opportunities.

Early in the life of the program, Nancy Sanford created a tuition assistance fund in honor of her late husband, John L. Sanford. It’s been supporting 1-2 students a year. “The John L. Sanford fund has been significant in making our program accessible to anyone who was serious about learning how to successfully run a small farm business,” says Executive Director, Judy Feldman. “What we’re so excited about is that after a great year in our new location even more donors have been inspired — they have joined the effort to make it easier for aspiring farmers to gain access to the training program.” 

The program, located on Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest, is designed to prepare students to successfully manage a small-scale farm against financial, environmental, and social benchmarks. Classroom and field instruction address crop, soil, pest and disease science, but also business planning, marketing, equipment maintenance and repair, seed development, season extension, and community development. Tuition for the intense, full-time, 8-month, experiential program is $6500. Once they are accepted into the program, students with a financial need are able to apply for up to half of that amount from the tuition assistance fund. 

Feldman is also encouraged by the growing number of post-graduation opportunities that have been presenting themselves. “Based on the skills demonstrated by graduates who are now working on farms across the country, retiring farmers, new property owners, and farms that employ managers are approaching us for connections to new graduates. In other words, there are farm jobs waiting for those who successfully complete the training program.”

The 2018 season begins on March 19 and runs to November 16. Applications are currently being accepted, and housing opportunities are available. For more information, email judy@organicfarmschool.org .