URBAN EDGE

SUSTAINABLE FARMING

FGF > UESF

Why choose to be part of the UESF Farmily?

“What UESF offers beginning farmers is unique in California:

An opportunity to farm on historic farmland, in close connection with a traditional farm family, in a changing farming community on the edge of a major and expanding urban market.

Through First Generation Farmers, the Cecchinis are offering knowledge, perspective, and resources, as well as a bridge to bring new and beginning farmers into the living history, knowledge, and culture of family farming.”

Poppy Davis
Independent Ag Business and Policy Consultant
Research Professor, University of Arkansas School of Law

  • RESOURCES

    550 ACRES

  • PARTICIPANTS

    0-7 YEARS EXPERIENCE

  • ACTIVITIES

    9 MONTH INTENSIVE PROGRAMMING

  • LOCATION

    SAN FRANCISCO URBAN EDGE

  • LONG-TERM VISION

    50-100 BEGINNING FARMERS

Share

IMG_9785_preview

Program Purpose

At First Generation Farmers, we believe that recruiting, training, inspiring, and mentoring the next generation of small and mid-size farmers is vital to the strength of our local communities, the health of our land, and the security of our food supply.

FGF has been teaching and mentoring individual farm apprentices for several years. Now, with a two-year grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, we’re launching Urban Edge Sustainable Farmers (UESF), a formal training and incubator program.

The purpose of UESF is to provide aspiring specialty crop farmers with the foundational production skills, business knowledge, and confidence they need to establish dynamic and resilient farm enterprises on the urban edge—where ever-growing demand for sustainably grown, source-identified produce presents one of the most exciting economic opportunities in the agricultural sector today

How to Apply

Application steps and important dates:

  • Fill out the online application here
  • Pay $10 application fee
    (deadline December 1, 2017)

  • Visit on a Harvest Day (any Monday or Friday in October or November), if possible
  • Phone interview
  • Accepted candidates must notify UESF of their plans to attend by December 22, 2017 and pay their $500 deposit by January 5, 2018
  • Prior to beginning the program, all accepted applicants must attend a 2-hour orientation workshop, TBA in January 2018
  • Program begins February 5, 2018
  • Fill out the online application here.
  • Visit on a Harvest Day (any Monday or Friday in October or November), if possible
  • Phone interview
  • Accepted candidates must notify UESF of their plans to attend by January 1, 2018
  • Program begins February 5, 2018

Training

This is a rigorous, full-time, residential program designed for those with serious intentions to pursue a career in farming. BFTs (beginning farmers in training) are strongly encouraged to do whatever mental, physical, and financial preparation they need to devote their full time and energy to this learning experience for the duration of the 9-month course.

From early February through early November, BFTs learn, work, and live as a group, raising vegetable row crops on FGF’s 13-acre organic plot and marketing this produce through FGF’s established sales channels. Alongside agricultural instruction, BFTs also receive a thorough introduction to farm business fundamentals, such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, filing taxes, and how to access land and capital.

Course instruction is provided by FGF staff and its partners at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and University of California Cooperative Extension. BFTs also learn from working alongside the Cecchini family—4th generation farmers who are successfully bridging their deep roots in agricultural tradition with adaptation to 21st century sustainable practices and changing market demands

Daily Life

In 2018, the course runs from February 5 to November 5, with one 5-day break in early July.

Program activities run Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, with a 2-hour midday break—although the day may begin as early as 5:30 am, depending on weather and crop needs. On weekends, BFTs are responsible for farmers’ market and watering duties on a rotational schedule.

BFTs are expected to participate fully in all scheduled program activities.

Farming involves strenuous physical work!
​During this course, BFTs will prepare field beds; sow seeds; transplant seedlings; weed, thin, and water crops; harvest, wash, pack, weigh, and store produce; load and unload trucks for market; and perform various other physical tasks. Additional chores include rotating shifts for greenhouse management and residential cooking and cleaning.

Sustainability

Proficiency in marketing practices and skills—from food handling and presentation, to pricing and customer engagement—is critical to the success of any farm start-up.

FGF sells its produce primarily through a farm stand on the FGF campus, at farmers’ markets, and to local restaurants.

Further, revenue from the sale of FGF produce contributes significantly to funding our BF program. (Tuition covers only about 25% of the total operating cost.) For these reasons BFTs are expected to approach their marketing duties with as much commitment and desire to learn as they bring to every other aspect of their farming education.

Continuing to Incubator Phase (Year Two)

One of the stand-out features of UESF is that FGF has allocated 550 acres of prime, protected farmland for beginning farmers to incubate their enterprises and potentially transition into long-term leases.

The 9-month training course is followed by a 3-month intersession. During this period BFTs who wish to continue to the incubator phase will receive individual support and feedback as they develop their own business proposal—a plan for independent study that will have them growing and selling their own crops and managing their own eighth-acre (or more, depending on proficiency) of land in Year Two. Business proposals must be approved by UESF for entry to the Incubator.

The design of the incubator is still in development. FGF will release more details about this phase of the program as they are determined.

Residential Life

Running a farm business is an immersion lifestyle, to say the least. We’ve designed UESF as a full-time residential program because we believe the only way to learn farming is to live it.

Logistics:

BFTs bunk in a 10-room dormitory with some single and some double rooms.
Shared bathroom facilities include 5 toilet stalls and 5 showers. Meals are prepared in a communal kitchen, which is attached to a shared living and dining area. Group food supplies are purchased in bulk and included in the cost of tuition.

BFTs are allowed limited fridge and space to keep their own separate food items. Hot plates, mini-fridges, and other appliances may not be kept in sleeping quarters. Group meals are vegetarian, but BFTs may use the kitchen to cook their own meat if they wish. Participation in group meals is encouraged but not required.

All BFTs share responsibility for cooking, cleaning, and other domestic chores. Faithful attendance to these chores is a program requirement.

FGF does not have the space or organizational capacity to provide living accommodations for spouses, partners, children, pets, or other family members.

Philosophy

Communication and cooperation are essential to the smooth running of a farm enterprise.

Strong peer relationships and support networks are important resources for farmers, especially new farmers.

The UESF learning experience will be significantly shaped by BFTs’ genuine efforts to establish and maintain a cohesive, supportive farm community. BFTs should come to the program prepared to invest time and energy into performing domestic chores, attending group meetings, and resolving interpersonal conflicts as needed. Beyond these requirements, individual BFTs are free to engage or not engage in group social activities as they prefer.

Program Costs

Total Program Tuition for Year One is $4,000. The cost breakdown is as follows:

  • Instruction: $1,600
  • Room (including utilities): $1,500 ($167/month)
  • Food: $900 ($100/month)

Fee payment schedule:

  • $500 non-refundable deposit to reserve your place
  • $1,250 due January 15, 2018
  • $1,250 due March 1, 2018
  • $1000 due May 1, 2018

Tool deposit:
BFTs also pay an $80 deposit for a set of tools that is theirs to use for the season. In cases of lost or damaged tools, the replacement cost will be deducted from the deposit. At the end of the season, BFTs will have the option to relinquish their deposit and keep their tools, or return them for the balance of their deposit.

All BFTs are required to show proof of personal health insurance.

First Generation Farmers is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. In addition to FGF revenue from produce sales and BFT tuition, UESF is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

  • Instruction: $1,600
  • Room (including utilities): $1,500 ($167/month)
  • Food: $900 ($100/month)

Fee payment schedule:

  • $500 non-refundable deposit to reserve your place
  • $1,250 due January 15, 2018
  • $1,250 due March 1, 2018
  • $1000 due May 1, 2018

Tool deposit:
BFTs also pay an $80 deposit for a set of tools that is theirs to use for the season. In cases of lost or damaged tools, the replacement cost will be deducted from the deposit. At the end of the season, BFTs will have the option to relinquish their deposit and keep their tools, or return them for the balance of their deposit.

All BFTs are required to show proof of personal health insurance.

First Generation Farmers is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. In addition to FGF revenue from produce sales and BFT tuition, UESF is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

Admissions

Program space is limited. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis by an Admissions Committee of UESF staff and partners. Applicants will be notified of their status (accepted, waitlisted, or rejected) within 3 weeks of their application submission.

Selection Criteria:

UESF’s primary purpose is to train beginning farmers and support them through the first several years of establishing their own urban-edge farm businesses.

Still, we recognize that not every BFT who completes our first-year training will ultimately follow this path; and we believe those whose training experience helps them to arrive at an informed decision not to start a farm will also have been well-served by the program. One way or another, we believe that everyone who completes Year One will emerge from their training with valuable new skills and a deeper understanding of what sustainable farmers need to flourish in the United States.

Admissions Committee

The admissions committee will select those candidates who best demonstrate:

  • Readiness to commit to rigorous, hands-on training in a full-time residential program;
  • Thoughtful consideration of the mission and distinct characteristics of both FGF and UESF;
  • Clear intention to apply their training to future work that will strengthen sustainable agriculture—through farming, agripreneurship, teaching, advocacy, community leadership, or some other avenue.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

UESF is open to all applicants, but we prioritize admission for beginning farmers with limited resources, military veterans, and those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, including women, members of the LGBTQ community, people of colour, immigrants and refugees.

Our intention is to support farmers who often experience significant systemic barriers to starting their enterprise because we believe that a diverse population of farmers makes for a stronger and more resilient farming community.

Visiting FGF

Prospective BFTs are strongly encouraged to visit FGF on a Monday or Friday Harvest Day to meet program staff, participate in a few hours of harvest field work, eat lunch with the crew, and get a feel for the farm and campus.

*We recommend the visit as a benefit to the applicant; is not a requirement for admission. To schedule your visit, please email us here

Campus/Office (FGF1CA)

FGF Model Farm (FGF1PL)

FGF Model Farm (FGF1PL)

Contacts

Find us, follow us, get involved! There is always something new and exciting going on at FGF.

1230 Delta Road, Knightsen, CA, 94548

firstgenerationfarmers@gmail.com

Get In Touch

Questions? Comments? Ideas? We’d love to hear from you! Please use this form to send your message, and we’ll get back to you asap.