Apprentice opportunities at the North Farm at MSU UP Research and Extension Center

12/9/2014

Image courtesy MSU Extension.  (view larger image)

Image courtesy MSU Extension.

By Madeline Judge, Intern at MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center

The North Farm at the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula (U.P) Research and Extension Center, Chatham, MI is an incubator farm that specializes in diversified organic vegetable production and season extension in northern climates. The farm has an incubator program designed to support new farmers launch a successful farm business by providing resources and support including access to land, infrastructure, market development and on-farm technical training.

The North Farm is currently accepting applications for three new “Apprentice” farmers. The North Farm Apprentice Farmer Program is designed to reduce the barriers of access (such as land acquisition, business management experience, and growing skills) for beginning farmers who are interested in starting their own farm business. Three apprentice farmers will be selected to begin the two-year program in the spring of 2015. While technical assistance is available, the apprenticeship is not a training program. This opportunity is ideal for a farmer who has a significant amount of farming experience and is ready to take the next steps towards launching their own farm business in a northern climate.

The farm is located in Chatham, MI in the central U.P., and is situated close to markets in Marquette, Munising and beyond. There is a growing demand for fresh produce in the Upper Peninsula, and the North Farm will assist Apprentice Farmers in developing their skills to serve their markets. This program is open to individual farmers, as well as farming couples/partnerships.

Apprentice Farmers Will Receive:

  • Access to organically managed land – 1/4 acre plot for the first year, 1/2 acre for the second year.
  • Access to shared infrastructure – storage space, walk-in cooler, root cellar, hoophouse space, washing/packing shed
  • Access to equipment and tools
  • Mentorship from the North Farm staff and other stakeholders
  • Opportunities to network with other area growers and food enthusiasts
  • Opportunities to participate in competency-based workshops and trainings
  • Optional housing at the North Farm
  • Assistance in developing a transition plan off the North Farm after the two-year program

Cost of Participation

  • $700 per growing season for land and resources.
  • Optional on-farm housing provided at $175 per month.
  • Optional custom tractor work as needed is also available for a small fee.

For more information, please visit http://www.msunorthfarm.org/apprentice-farmer-program.html.