Farmers for Chicago: Grower Apprenticeship

Applications for the 2022 Grower Apprenticeship are now closed.  The program begins February 9, 2022.

 

The Urban Growers Collective Grower Apprenticeship Program provides new and emerging growers with hands-on training in urban agriculture production and cooperative business models as a foundation to increasing food security, food sovereignty, and economic opportunity within the Chicago region.

This program is designed for individuals who are just beginning their farm learning and are ready to contribute to the food system in their communities as members of the farming profession and will provide participants with the tools and skills to begin their own urban farming project at the conclusion of the full program. It is not designed for individuals who are looking to lease land to activate or expand an existing farm operation. We are happy to refer you to other resources if that is your primary goal.

The program model for the Grower Apprenticeship has evolved from UGC’s Farmers for Chicago Incubator Program, which was established in 2015, and is built upon the previous 13-year legacy of Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture Training Program. Throughout our time supporting emerging growers, we’ve seen the need for a full spectrum, sequential training and mentoring program that encourages skill development through hands-on practice, collective knowledge sharing, and community building – without the financial pressure or time-consuming nature of starting and maintaining an independent farm business.

This 3-year practical adult education training program guides participants towards commercially viable farm operations via cooperative growing, aggregation, and profit sharing. 

The apprenticeship includes workshops, mentoring, and repetitive practice to build basic hands-on skills and understand the fact pace needed to meet commercial demands. UGC works with participants to create a pathway for future procurement and larger-scale commercial distribution. It also provides scaffolded opportunities for participants to refine core values; build business aptitude; and work toward financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable farming operations. 

UGC will onboard a new cohort each year. Although the program’s curriculum is designed for 3 annual modules, the learning is sequential, and apprentices may choose to offboard successfully each year.

 

See an overview of the program here.

View a recording of our Q&A session here.

 

Yearly Tuition: $1700. Scholarships available – please do not let financial barriers prevent you from applying.

BIPOC growers are strongly encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to applicants living or working in designated Opportunity Zones and the following Chicago communities: South Chicago, Englewood, West Woodlawn, and Auburn-Gresham.

Questions?

Reach out at info@urbangrowerscollective.org or (773) 376-8882.