Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grow a Farmer! Time to apply is running out..


Less than one week left to apply to ACORN Organic ‘Farm School!’

February 21, 2013

Sackville, NB – A notice to those green thumbs, or aspiring green thumbs, who are seeking more information about agriculture before making an important decision: do you want to farm?
Surely, if you haven’t yet had the experience, you may be trying to imagine what it is like to live and work an organic farm. Or perhaps you're already looking even further ahead to visions of managing your own farm. These dreams are pleasant enough, but you may be feeling hesitant about making a commitment, as you don’t feel like you ‘know- enough’ just yet.

Let’s face it, not many of us grew up on a farm, or even near a farm. Not only that, but likely our parents didn’t either. This means that for anyone interested in pursuing an agricultural career, there’s a huge generational gap in farming knowledge, which in years past, used to be passed on from generation to generation. Given that farming can be such a challenging profession–one requiring business management and mechanical skills, for example–all in addition to a basic understanding of general farm skills (like harvesting), while you spend your days working with (or against!) the forces of Mother Nature. Indeed, these days, it’s tough luck finding a one-stop-shop for all of the training you need to feel successful as a farmer, on your own, or with others.

And this is precisely what has inspired a local agricultural non-profit organization, the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN), to collaborate with a selection of Maritime-based organic farms to develop the first regional farm school: the Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship program. Pairing applicants with a dedicated and dynamic ‘host’-farm–ranging widely in style and scale of production–the Apprenticeship Program is catered to people who want to gain real, curriculum-based farm skills. The program is a 7-month apprenticeship guided by a curriculum that covers everything from production techniques for vegetable growing and soil, to broader topics including the more ideological origins of organic farming and the next steps to take forward as ‘growing farmers’.
Needless to say, it’s comprehensive, and bound to connect any new grower with a strong and unified network of other new and long-standing organic farmers and stakeholders in Atlantic Canada.

“Many of us don't have the natural experience of growing up on a farm or knowing of a mentor to guide us,” claims John Quimby, of Dunn Creek Farm, “but every successful farmer is mentored during his or her development be it via grandparents, parents, a wise friend, a learning course, or hard-earned experience–these are the guides that have brought every one of us to the hands-on skill-development of planting, growing and managing a farm,” he continues. “Susan (my wife) and I are no exception. That's the reason for this program. That's the reason we support it.

With the growing demand for sustainable local food, we also need to ‘grow more’ organic food producers in our communities. The Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship program guides potential new agriculture entrepreneurs to realize their farm dreams, through hard-earned, practical and educational experience.

For full details, please visit Applications are available on the program website at Scholarships are still available to applicants with limited means. ACORN strongly encourages interested participants to apply by the deadline: March 1st, to secure their placement for the full season! There are also 4-month summer positions available for student applications.

Since 2000, ACORN has been the key organization for information on organic agriculture, eating organics, and connecting all the parts together in order to advance the local organic sector in Atlantic Canada.

For inquiries, please contact:
Lucia Stephen, Program Coordinator 506-536-2867 or 1-888-322-2676 

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