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Organic Farming Apprenticeship Training Program in Santa Cruz, CA Accepting Applications—Expanded Scholarship Support Available

by Guest Blogger |

Aspiring organic farmers and gardeners are invited to apply for the 2020 Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Now in its 52nd year, the apprenticeship is the longest running university-based organic farming training program in the United States. This year’s program will offer a record number of scholarships to participants.

The six-month, full-time residential program takes place at the 30-acre organic farm and three-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UCSC campus. The apprenticeship blends experiential learning with traditional classroom studies on topics that include organic soil management, composting, pest and weed control, crop planning, irrigation, farm equipment, direct marketing techniques, business planning, and social and environmental issues in the food system. The program focuses on growing vegetables, flowers, berries, and small-scale orchards.

Information about the 2020 Apprenticeship

The upcoming six-month program begins on April 13, 2020. Scholarship support at different levels is available, including the Food Justice and Equity Scholarship, Matthew Raiford Scholarship for Veterans, and the Simply Organic Scholarship. AmeriCorps vouchers are also accepted. Free housing is available on the UCSC Farm.

The apprenticeship is managed by the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UCSC. It is open to participants 21 years of age or older, regardless of educational background.

Program information, application materials, details on scholarship support, and a list of dates for upcoming orientation tours are available on the CASFS website

Application deadlines for the 2020 program are August 15, 2019 for international applicants and September 30, 2019 for U.S. applicants.

Apprentices accepted into the program each year come from all regions of the United States and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and interests.

Program graduates have established their own commercial farms and market gardens, developed farm- and garden-based educational programs, run urban garden programs, and more. You can read more about apprenticeship alumni’s work on the Graduates at Work page of the CASFS website, and see a map of graduates’ farms and projects.

For more information about the apprenticeship, please contact the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at (831) 459-3240, or at Learn more about CASFS activities on the CASFS website, where you can also find out how to visit the UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden, free and open to the public seven days a week. 


Guest blog post by Martha Brown, principal editor of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The mission of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is to research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations.