2021 Curriculum & Schedule
Carnation Farms’ Mentorship curriculum is modeled after the University of California Santa Cruz’s successful Farm & Garden Apprenticeship program. We have added training and content unique to our certified organic farm and to food production in Western Washington. Our intention is to equip future farmers and leaders in sustainable agricultural food production with the knowledge, practical skills, and experiences they need to be successful. We are keenly aware that the average age U.S. farmers is nearly 60, and we want to prepare new farmers to ensure a sustainable food system for generations to come.
Our curriculum includes three main components:
Farmers-in-training are fully integrated into the day-to-day work on our certified organic farm and are responsible for vital roles in food production. Revenue generated from sales of the farm’s produce, eggs, and livestock are crucial to the funding of our mission-based programming, including the Mentorship. Under the guidance of the Mentor and other Carnation Farms staff, farmers-in-training learn through this sequence: 1) observe, 2) do alongside, 3) do supervised, 4) do un-supervised. Fieldwork involves all aspects of vegetable, tree fruit, berry, livestock, and grain production. Examples of fieldwork include: bed preparation, seed sowing, transplanting, watering, weeding, thinning, pruning, composting, harvesting, produce handling and storage, feeding and caring for livestock, moving fences, gathering eggs, and safely operating tractors and other farm machinery.
2. Classroom education and application (1 day per week)
Farmers-in-training participate in a curriculum preparing them for the sustainable production of vegetables, fruits, grains, and livestock. They attend classes taught by our Director of Agriculture Production, other staff, guest educators and receive training from business, marketing and farming experts, go on field trips, participate in local symposia, view and discuss webinars, and do hands-on practical applications of what they are learning.
Curriculum topics include:
• Soils – soil physical properties, soil health, soil fertility management in sustainable practices, cover crops, tillage, crop rotation
• Field production of fruit, vegetable, and grain – plant propagation, greenhouse techniques, variety selection, crop planning, projecting yields, bed preparation, irrigation and water management, flood mitigation
• Pest and disease management – identification and management of invertebrate and anthropod pests, plant pathogens, predator control
• Farm equipment – basic carpentry, farm vehicle and implement mechanics, maintenance and repair. Safe operation of hand equipment, tractors, farm vehicles, and implements.
• Food safety – harvest and post-harvest handling and storage
• Ecological sustainability – wildlife and pollinator habitat improvement and protection
• Livestock production and management
• Business skills – basic accounting and record-keeping, budgeting, business plan development, public speaking, land acquisition, loans, regulations, labor issues, risk reduction, marketing
All farmers-in-training participate in each of these rotations:
• Livestock – The farmer-in-training will learn about and help with daily chores and management of all livestock production on the farm. This includes caring for young stock, feeding, moving fences and coops, delivering animals to the processor, and storage of harvested product. There is opportunity to also spend time in the processing unit to learn ethical dispatch and processing of poultry and rabbits.
• Sales and Marketing – This rotation involves learning and executing the business and marketing aspects of generating sales at our onsite farm stand and at local farmers’ markets. Activities include setting up and working at the farmers market, bookkeeping, record keeping, guest experience, methods to increase sales, and more in this crucial role to meet financial needs of the farm.
• Educational outreach – A unique aspect of the Mentorship at Carnation Farms is potentially participating in the educational programming for the public. After training to be a spokesperson for the agricultural production aspect of the farm, the farmer-in-training has opportunities to occasionally lead farm and garden tours for youth and adult guests attending on-farm events, farm dinners, field trips, and summer camps.
Farmers-in-training spend time with our Culinary team learning about various culinary operations such as fermentation and value-added products, as well as discussing farmer to chef communication and direct sales. Time is also spent with our Facilities and Maintenance staff, doing safety training, as well as brief educational workshops on forestry management, refrigeration maintenance, plumbing, electrical and diesel engines.
Farmers-in-training participate in all aspects of communication and farm functionality, including farm team meetings, one-on-one time working with Carnation Farms’ leadership team, and communal Sustainable Agriculture Department events.