Farm Internships and Apprenticeships

Learn about these useful resources and tips for finding farm internships, especially for women in agriculture.

| April 2016

  • Any woman who has dreamed of leaving the city behind and embracing the rural life, will appreciate the friendly and accessible advice in this article.
    Photo courtesy The Countryman Press
  • "Woman-Powered Farm," by Audrey Levantino shows that women on the farm is on the rise, all across the United States, from big farms raising market crops to small urban farms bringing organic produce to farm stands.
    Cover courtesy The Countryman Press

Woman-Powered Farm (The Countryman Press, 2015) by Audrey Levatino tells women's story, and is the first ever guide to farming written by women and addressing their specific questions and concerns. Whether you are a farmers' market shopper, a homesteader, or a passionate gardener, chances are you, too, have dreamed of living on a farm. This empowering, inspiring book will show you how to do it. Filled with stories of women across the country who are leading the farming revolution, it is an invaluable resource for anyone who dreams of the farming life.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Woman-Powered Farm.

Farm Internship or Apprenticeship as a Path to Farming

You don’t need to jump headlong into farm ownership to learn about farming. Many women find it more prudent to learn the skills they will need before looking to buy a place of their own. Internships and apprenticeships are good ways to kick the tires of farming. They are also good ways to experience the less glamorous side of farming and learn which type of farming you don’t want to do.

Most interns are expected to do the grunt work. But that’s exactly where you need to begin. If you can handle double digging beds, wrenching wire grass out of pathways, and spreading tons of mulch, then you know you can handle and appreciate the farm tasks that need more skill. Apprenticeships are a more advanced form of internship. You learn more farming skills and management, but an apprenticeship requires that you already have some basic farming skills.

Be very careful in choosing a farm in which to work. Some farms do not follow all the national and local labor laws and may offer unpaid internships in violation of those laws. You could also find yourself in a manual labor situation that offers little opportunity for education.

But some of the best people you will ever befriend will be the kindred spirits you learn from on farms. And while there are known labor issues with the Big Ag farms, the local, sustainable, and organic farms are generally run by kind people. A good place to seek out internships and apprenticeships is with the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. This site offers hundreds of farm internships listed by state along with lots of useful information for farmers of any level. However, be aware that the service does not screen or endorse the job postings or farms on its website. That said, the listings are very informative and will answer your questions about pay, living conditions, and what you might expect to learn as an intern or apprentice.

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