Farmers play a critical role in food systems, rural economies, ecological sustainability, and the social fabric of communities. As farmers age, new farmers are needed to maintain the stability of the agricultural sector. Without skilled individuals willing and able to take up farming as a career, the future of domestic food production is in jeopardy. This has a range of environmental, social, and economic implications.
In a new JAFSCD viewpoint article, authors Laura Schreiner, Charles Z. Levkoe, and Theresa Schumilas present initial findings from an exploratory community-campus partnership research study that aimed to explore, document, and categorize existing and emergent models of practical farmer training in North America.
After reviewing practical farmer training programs across North America, the authors propose a typology of five categories:
- Informal farm internship associations
- Centralized internship programs
- Private, nonprofit course-based programs
- Formal academic programs
- Independent and self-directed learning
This typology can serve as a springboard to support future research—and to better support the development of new practical farmer training programs. Continue reading “New paper scans programs for training a new generation of North American farmers”
By Laura Schreiner
Doctors attend medical school, electricians go through apprenticeships—but how do farmers learn the practical skills of their trade? There are many different pathways into farming, but they aren’t nearly as structured—nor as well understood—as those of other occupations. In an era of aging and retiring farmers, understanding how the next generation is being trained is important, but there is very little research into it as yet.
To this end, in the summer of 2017, under the supervision of Theresa Schumilas and Charles Levkoe and with the guidance of our partner organizations, the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) and the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training in SW Ontario (CRAFT-SW), I conducted a scan of practical farmer training programs. Practical farmer training refers to farmer-to-farmer education that has a significant on-farm (hands-on) component. The goal was to document and then categorize the various types of practical farmer training programs across North America, to help broaden our understanding of and contextualize the variety of training program models. Continue reading “How does a farmer learn to farm? A scan of practical farmer training programs”