California Farm Academy

Farm Credit West, American AgCredit and CoBank are sponsoring four students with scholarships to attend the California Farm Academy. This program, run under the umbrella of The Center for Land Based Learning, serves as training for beginning farmers. Maureen Thompson, Farm Program Manager, explains that the students range from their 20s to their 60s. “This program is for beginning famers,” she says. “Many of them are people who have decided for a change of careers or a late interest in farming.”

The Academy runs 32 weeks from January through October. Students spend an average of ten hours per week at the CFA. Each student will create personalized lesson plans that include creating a business plan and also an in-depth study project focusing on their end goals.

There are three components to the curriculum. During the winter most of the sessions consist of classroom courses on business planning, goal setting, soil science, crop planning, etc. The second component consists of farm visits. These field trips take students to various farming operations where they can learn about different aspects of the trade. The final part of the program is actually working the fields for practical, hands-on experience.

The CFA has a one acre plot and each student is responsible for a few crops. There are about 20 different crops growing, with many varieties of each crop.

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