Dear Lon -
Thanks for the encouraging words about reaching out through our farm's
apprentices, but I didn't do much, the apprentices did. These were fantastic
young people, mostly college grads or seniors, they worked for room and board
and little or nothing more, mostly the learning experience. They worked
harder than you could imagine - lugging water when it didn't rain, hand
tilling when the rototiller went on strike, pulling weeds, working in the
rain, in mosquito clouds, in hot hot sun. They charmed customers at farm
stand and farmers' markets, they studied the needs of wholesale buyers, they
kept records and planned improvements from year to year. They became like
family, they seemed to care as much as if it were their own farm.
Organic guru Eliot Coleman wrote "if you want to learn about farming, go
work on a farm." Apprentices take that to heart. But I get the impression
there are not enough host farms to go around. Most of our young people came
by word of mouth, but we also received applications or letters of inquiry -
over 50 last year. The Agroecology Institute at University of California
Santa Cruz had, last I knew, 160 applicants for 40 openings, and there the
students pay for the privilege.
If you've never thought about taking on one or more apprentices (more is
better) think about it now. ATTRA has a clearing house to bring farms and
apprentices together, so do many organic farming organizations. If you can't
find one, maybe I can help.
Wishing all of you all the best, Betty Gras
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