I am coordinating an apprenticeship program for West Virginia's Mountain
State Organic Growers and Buyers Association. We are in our second year. In
our first year, we were unsuccessful in placing any apprentices, so I'm
writing to ask for ideas about advertising, etc.
Our program is based more or less loosely on the successful Maine and Ohio
programs: farmers register detailed application forms with the central
office (me). Inquiring potential apprentices are mailed a applications,
information about MSOGBA, and listings showing a 50-word description of
each participating farm's operation. Apprentice applicants indicate in
their applications their preferred five from among these participating
farms. The applicant receives copies of the chosen farmers' applications,
the chosen farmers receive copies of the apprentices' applications, and
it's up to them from there.
Last year we asked for $15 application fees from farmers and applicants
alike (not out of line with other programs). Because we had thirty-some
inquiries that resulted in requests for applications from twenty-some
people but only one returned application, and the farm descriptions were
varied and interesting, we are assuming that the application fee was a
deterrent. This seems especially likely since we had only six participating
farms and I know that at least Maine has many, many more (making it more
likely to an applicant that the fee will result in a successful match).
Since the program supported itself easily, we reduced the fees this year to
$10 for farmers and $5 for apprentice applicants.
It's my sense that the other problem with our program was probably
advertising. Guessing that people who have interest in and have memberships
with organic farming organizations would be likely applicants, we
advertised primarily in classifieds in the newsletters of organic farming
organizations in the eastern states, in February, March, April, and May,
variously, as the newsletters were printed. A few of these were free; a few
asked as much as $10 per ad, and we only advertised once in one of those.
We are trying to keep expenses down, if possible, at least until the
program gets up and running.
It could be that the people who are interested in small farm
apprenticeships aren't already hooked into the groups, but are more likely,
say, college students looking for interesting summer experiences. This year
we plan, for one thing, to mail information about our program to WV county
ag extension agents and to college placement offices, agriculture
professors, and environmental science professors in WV and surrounding
We are interested in other free or inexpensive ways to promote the program,
or ideas from groups that have experience with paid ads that are
worthwhile. And thoughts about who potential farm apprentices are. Any
other ideas that aren't mentioned here? Thanks for any suggestions --
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: