2022 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:
1. Fieldwork (3-5 days per week)
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 unsupervised. Fieldwork involves all aspects of certified organic vegetable and livestock 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, poultry processing, moving fences, gathering eggs, and operating tractors and other farm machinery.
2. Classroom education and application (1 class per week)
Farmers-in-training participate in a curriculum preparing them for the organic production of vegetables and livestock. They attend weekly classes, receive training from business 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 organic practices, cover crops, tillage, crop rotation
• Field production – 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 – farm vehicle and implement mechanics, maintenance and repair. Safe operation of 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; poultry processing, including live animal butchery.
• Business skills – basic accounting and record-keeping, budgeting, public speaking, regulations, labor issues, risk reduction, marketing
All farmers-in-training participate in each of these rotations:
• Livestock – Farmers-in-training 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, processing animals, and storage of harvested product.
• Sales and Marketing – This rotation involves learning and executing the business and marketing aspects of generating sales at local farmers’ markets and managing our CSA. Activities include set-up, guest experience, engaging the community, methods to increase sales and more.
• Educational outreach – A unique aspect of the Mentorship at Carnation Farms is participating in educational programming for the public. After training to be a spokesperson for the agricultural production aspect of the farm, the farmer-in-training will 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 also participate in farm team meetings, hold 1:1 meetings with the Mentor, do quarterly self- and program-assessments, and eat communally with other ag staff.