It has been six months since the pilot year of the Beginning Urban Farm Apprenticeship (BUFA) program started and the harvest season is winding down. The apprentices are engrossed in their study of urban organic farming and are really enjoying their time in the classroom and out in the field. Many of the students hope to start their own small-scale organic urban farms or already have their business up and running. Others simply want to increase their personal farming knowledge and skills. The vegetable production portion of the in-field training is held at CROPS Farm and is facilitated by Dan Bravin.

BUFA is the result of an innovative partnership between Multnomah County and Weston Miller at the OSU Extension Service. It is designed to provide in-depth, comprehensive training in sustainable, small-scale urban farming methods. The program offers two tracks for participation: Track one includes classroom training, field trips and in-field training; while track two offers the same sans in-field training.

Feedback from BUFA students has been positive so far and points towards continuation of the program. Dave Renn, a Special Education instructor at Portland Public Schools, said, “I would absolutely recommend the course. This is my first formal instruction in vegetable production and I have learned about elements in the process that I never would have considered before. Questions I hadn’t thought of have been asked and answered. The school I work for received a grant for a vegetable garden and before taking this course I would have not been comfortable managing it. But now I am confident that I can help lead with production!”

Another student, Laura Belson concurs with Dave. “I feel the same way. It is almost like unconscious learning with the combination of classroom and outside field work. There is a great amount of repetition which is important. Several times during the program students are asked to be the foreman/field leader, directing the team. The first time I lead I was overwhelmed, but the second time I was so much more confident! The instructors always answer my questions and I have learned five times more than I ever thought.”

Check out the great Portland Tribune article, “Cultivating a New Urban Trend”.