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Holistic Educational Approach of the Apprenticeship Program

Within a regimen of comprehensive farm-based education, we strive to cultivate a habitat for deep growth and transformation for our apprentices. We want this growth to empower people to embark on a career as a food grower, or embody our work in potentially unimaginable other ways for the betterment of themselves, the world and the human family. 

We are constantly adjusting and refining our Apprenticeship Program (and therefore any of the below features or elements may change), but this is how we structure the program currently:

  • In the first two weeks, we provide intensive trainings on core concepts and competencies alongside our daily work flow.
  • After week 2, apprentices split up into Farm or Garden roles, then incrementally build and rotate responsibilities (from nursery management to tractor work) rooted in either site, with mentorship from the Farm or Garden Supervisor. Apprentices switch sites half-way through the program.
  • We devote two hours each week to teaching from a curriculum of foundational or specialty topics. Apprentice Education Sessions are either focused on deepening knowledge and skill beyond the fundamental understandings and abilities acquired in the core work (e.g. compost and soil food web) or on specialty topics not covered in the core work of the Esalen Farm and Garden (e.g. medicinal herbs). Sessions are mostly taught by Esalen Farm and Garden staff, but are sometimes taught by guest teachers.
  • We carve out two hours every week for apprentices to observe, reflect, integrate, study and cultivate their own independent project. We expect apprentices to proactively approach their study of farming and gardening through literature and other media (a library of resources is available in the Farm and Garden), spend time observing and journaling outside of the workday, and fulfill occasional extracurricular projects and assignments to round out the mostly in-the-field learning. Apprentices self-select an Independent Project or Focus for the duration of the apprenticeship, and present their project in a 25-minute presentation at the end of the program.
  • We strive to embody our vision of a new relational agriculture as a work crew, cultivating our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the land through daily group check-ins and a group Gestalt process session once per week.
  • As part of the Esalen residential experience, Esalen provides an Advisor to consult and provide guidance on the larger Esalen experience beyond the Farm and Garden Apprenticeship. Apprentices can select their Esalen Advisor from a group of options, and schedule two Advisor sessions during the session. In your free time, you can take advantage of the facilities and opportunities that exist at Esalen in our Residential Education program and workshops that don't conflict with the apprenticeship schedule and as space permits. Apprentices are also eligible for scholarships, discounts, and specific privileges that exist for this type of residency at Esalen.
  • We hold regular feedback meetings to hear how apprentices are doing with the program, the work, us as staff, the other crew members, and Esalen as a whole. And we track their progression in learning and working through the checklist of competencies.

For more information on the Farm and Garden Apprenticeship program, please explore:

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