Scholarship support available for UC Santa Cruz organic farming training program

Application period now open for aspiring gardeners, farmers

apprentices planting seeds
Apprentices in the Ecological Horticulture program transplant crops at the UC Santa Cruz Farm. (Photo by Britt Retzlaff)
Jim Leap leads an apprenticeship class
Organic farmer and instructor Jim Leap teaches a class on field preparation techniques. (Photo by Brandon Blackburn)

In April 2015 the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden will welcome its 48th class of aspiring organic farmers and gardeners as participants in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, the longest-running university-based organic farmer-training program in the U.S.

Applications are now open for the 2015 Apprenticeship program, with a range of scholarship support available, including the Simply Organic annual scholarship and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. GI Bill and AmeriCorps funding can also be used to cover tuition costs.

The Apprenticeship is managed by the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz, and is offered through UCSC’s Extension Program. It is open to all participants 21 years or older, regardless of educational background.

Program information, application materials, and details on scholarship support are available online at Application deadlines for the 2015 program are August 15, 2014 for international applicants, and September 30, 2014 for U.S. citizens.

The six-month, full-time residential program is based at the 30-acre organic farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The program trains adults in the concepts and practices of organic gardening and small-scale sustainable farming. The Apprenticeship blends experiential learning with traditional classroom studies on topics that include soil management, composting, pest and weed control, crop planning, irrigation, farm equipment, direct marketing techniques, business planning, and social and environmental issues in the food system.

The 39 apprentices each year come from all regions of the U.S, and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and interests.

The program has graduated nearly 1,500 new organic farmers. Graduates have established their own commercial farms and market gardens, developed farm- and garden-based educational programs, run urban garden programs, and more. You can read more about Apprenticeship alumni’s work at

For more information about the Apprenticeship, please contact the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at 831-459-3240, or at Learn more about CASFS at