Countryside Beginning Farmer Program
The Countryside Beginning Farmer Program connects beginning farmers with valuable resources through agricultural technical assistance, business support, farmlink, internship and apprenticeship opportunities.
Meet our 2020 interns!
Left to right: Becca, India, and Maddie
Countryside Beginning Farmer Intern Program
Countryside launched a Beginning Farmer Intern and Apprentice program during the 2018 growing season. The first pilot year began our work to grow the next generation of food producers and farmland stewards! Our first apprentice was selected and placed at Trapp Family Farm for the 2018 season. Katherine Shultz has farming experience and has worked with several local Ohio farms. Aspiring to owning her own farm enterprise someday, Katherine spent her time with Trapp Family Farm honing her skills and learning additional subject matter such as farm business practices and record keeping. The 2018 season welcomed two interns, Elizabeth Koby and Em Evans. The Farm Internships are perfect for people with little experience but a lot of passion for local food and restorative agriculture. Em and Elizabeth developed farm skills while working on a few Countryside Initiative farms in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
In 2019, Countryside expanded the Beginning Farmer Intern Program and welcomed a full-time Farm Educator to work with interns on our partner farm at Old Trail School. Working with a partner farm that supplies a school dining hall allows the interns to have an active role in production planning and work directly with their consumers (the students!). The program will soon include the care of on-site chickens and heritage breed livestock, as part of a new heritage breed breeding program. The summer of 2019 welcomed four incredible beginning farmer interns! Check back for more information on the next internship!
Applications for the 2020 season are now closed. Check back in 2021!
Old Trail School Partnership and the Learning Farm
Countryside and Old Trail School partnered in 2018 on the ‘Farm Project’, working together to change the future of food and farming. Through this partnership, the Beginning Farmer Program is based at the learning farm on Old Trail School’s campus. The six-acre Organic farm consists of six raised beds, a large vegetable plot with 45 beds, a perennial fruit garden, a two-acre row crop field, two greenhouses, one hoophouse, and an aquaponics house. All interns and apprentices in their first session with the Countryside Beginning Farmer Program will meet there each week for a program lesson. The learning farm provides a more controlled environment than an active farm business, especially for the novice interns. This environment has micro-learning areas with lower consequences as interns gain experience and confidence. And while they will still have set production goals to meet, the Farm Educator will be better able to focus on the fundamentals than a farmer at an active farm operation.
The school actively uses the farm through their Edible Education Program creates a curriculum for primary school students to learn about agriculture, food science, biology, and our food system. The Edible Education faculty work with the Countryside Farm Educator to incorporate education opportunities into the gardens. School students will occasionally work with novice interns, who will introduce concepts of sustainable agriculture to the school students and build a culture of learn-by-teaching.