November 16, 2011

Aspiring urban farmers, listen up: Multnomah County, in partnership with Oregon State University Extension Service, is offering classroom training and hands-on, in-field apprenticeships with local farmers during an eight-month program in 2012.

The application period for the Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship (BUFA), which is in its second year, opened on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The program provides season-long training for the next generation of beginning farmers who want to participate in small-scale, urban farming. Apprenticeships start April 4, 2012.

Students gain knowledge through opportunities such as field trips, online learning, hands-on experience and OSU’s Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Workshop Series. The series focuses on farm business planning.

Participants work at the OSU Learning Gardens Lab at Green Thumb in Southeast Portland and at the Multnomah County C.R.O.P.S. (Community Reaps Our Produce and Shares) Farm in Troutdale. This year, students will sell produce at local farmers markets.

The urban farmer apprenticeship offers participants two tracks:
Track 1: This track includes all of the above programming. The time commitment for this track is 550 hours over the course of eight months. (30 participants maximum)

Track 2: This track is intended for people who want to increase their knowledge and skills in urban farming through classroom and field trip training, without the hands-on, in-the-field training. The time commitment for this track is 120 hours over the course of eight months. (10 participants maximum)

Dave Renn, whose Portland school received a grant for a vegetable garden, participated in the program this year. The teacher said classes were accessible and allowed him to keep his work schedule.

“The amount of opportunities to get involved in small scale and urban scale farming surprised me,” Renn said. “The BUFA program showed me that if you're willing to just go for it, there are ample opportunities to find my farming niche.”

Selection criteria
1. Must be 18 years of age or older.
2. Must be able to lift 50 pounds
3. Must be able to work for up to seven hours of continuous and strenuous outdoor labor.
4. Demonstrated aptitude for: gardening, or small- to large-scale farming; documented by experience, interests and/or education.
5. Demonstrated ability and/ or interest in self-employment, starting and running a small business.
6. Future plans include small- or large-scale farming.

Course Tuition and Scholarship Information
Track 1

$2,700 if you apply by or before Dec. 15, 2011
$3,000 after Dec. 15, 2011
*There are a limited number of Full Tuition and Work-Trade Scholarships available for TRACK 1

Track 2
$1,080 if you apply by or before Dec. 15, 2011
$1,200 after Dec. 15, 2011
No scholarships available for TRACK 2
* Full Tuition Scholarships cover the entire tuition minus a $100 processing fee. Apprentices who are accepted to the program and granted the Full Tuition Scholarship will be responsible for paying the $100 processing fee.
* Work-Trade Scholarships require an additional 125 hours of in-field work through the end of the 2012 program. Apprentices accepted to the program and granted the Work-Trade Scholarship will be responsible for $500 in processing and tuition fees.

Application period opens: Nov. 15, 2011
Early-bird application deadline: Dec. 15, 2011
Final application and scholarship deadline: Jan. 15, 2012 (Six Work-Trade Scholarships are available for Track 1)
Program begins: April 4, 2012

For more information:
Multnomah County Office of Sustainability
Dan Bravin, Multnomah County Food Program Coordinator, 503-421-5708 or