Small Farm Apprenticeship Program

The Illinois Small Farm Apprenticeship Program


The Illinois Small Farm Apprenticeship Program is a year-long professional development training program. It strives to give the participants the skill sets and tools to be able to successfully manage a small-scale vegetable farm.  We will be covering the whole process from farm planning, design, implementation to harvest, washing and marketing of produce while developing horticultural, managerial, organizational, business and marketing skills.


Apprentices will conduct all the processes required to successfully complete a full growing season on a small scale vegetable farm; everything from the crop planning, seed and materials ordering all the way through the planting, cultivation, harvest, storage, washing and marketing of fresh produce through the U of I’s Sustainable Student Farm’s many outlets.  They will learn the particulars of these processes and concepts by implementation on the farm but also through lectures, readings, activities and field trips to area farms.  Apprentices will learn the thought processes and the context for the decisions made on the farm and how a small-scale vegetable farm fits into the food system and society.


  • Development of business plans and structures that will set farms up for success in the markets of their choice. 
  • Understand the social and environmental context and consequences of agricultural practices in order to make informed decisions on how they would run a successful and conscientious agricultural business.     
  • Draft farm planning documents to support a smooth growing season. 
  • Implementation of farm planning documents to improve the farm operation. 
  • Develop an awareness of, and begin mastering, the physical and organizational skills to work on and operate a farm  
  • Understand the principles and practices of how to keep plants, soil, people and ecosystems on and around your farm healthy  
  • Develop awareness of Eco-systemic thinking in your farm system and your place in the greater community  
  • Build connections with local food system organizations. 
  • Demonstrate efficient task management based on physical and operational systems 
  • Understand how to effectively develop and maintain records to evaluate the success of the operation 


Running a farm requires a wide range of specialized skills, if you are looking to work in local food networks you will benefit from any number of the skills that you will develop in the program.  If you are looking to start a new career in food production or are interested in expanding the skills you already have, this program will teach you tools to use in the field, in the office, with your staff and at market.  These tools will help you to be able to operate a farm business or become an invaluable team member in an already existing organization.


  • Farmer
  • Farm Manager
  • Food Access Organizations
  • Farmers Market Manager
  • Local Food/Farm Support Organizations
  • Garden Coordinator
  • Food production and processing

To Apply

Please send a message of interest by Oct. 15 to our program director, Mr. Matt Turino (, describing why you are interested in the program and what skills and experience you would bring to it (previous experience not required, but a bonus).


A Highschool Diploma or GED

Some farm experience preferred


$6,000 per year


January 23- December 15