13 January 2017
As educational centers, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s farm preserves in Rockport – Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields – attract individuals pursuing careers in agriculture. The lessons they learn go beyond the logistics of farm operations. During their time at the farms apprentices engage with the community through educational agricultural programs, which teach about the local food system—food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management-- through the lens of environmental conservation and community wellbeing. This year MCHT will once again offer paid apprenticeships at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields. Each apprenticeship will be up to 9-months starting in March and will include a monthly stipend, health benefits, shared housing, training and supervision.
At Aldermere Farm apprentices gain experience managing all facets of a beef farm’s operations, including the logistics of hay and baleage production and rotational grazing, and developing annual plans to manage a herd’s health, reproduction, and nutrition. Apprentices also help lead ag programs for youth, like the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club. Lauren Robertson, a 2016 apprentice at Aldermere, remarked: “Working at Aldermere Farm gives the 4-Hers new perspectives on agriculture and different sustainable farming practices. They learn how to raise cattle from start to finish, and how to ethically raise meat animals. 4-H members are the future farmers and it’s important to involve them in agriculture from an early age.”
Erickson Fields Preserve is an extensive vegetable growing operation where local teens and volunteers grow fresh produce for the local food system, supplying mainly food pantries and schools. In March 2016, Jocelyn Tidwell became an apprentice at Erickson Fields Preserve through the Maine Organic Farmers Association (MOFGA). She had a Master’s degree in Adult Education and was looking for a program that would be a “blend of agriculture and education, connecting people to the earth, and creating community.” MCHT’s youth ag programs, Teen Ag Crew and Kids Can Grow, attracted her to the apprenticeship at Erickson Fields. Jocelyn commented, “I’ve begun to see how soil health, especially on land in production, is a complex web and gained practical knowledge of how to augment that health in sustainable ways.”
MOFGA's Apprenticeship Program is working with MCHT to provide apprentices with additional training and networking opportunities. To take advantage of these benefits, applicants may apply at www.MOFGA.org (listings are under Knox County, see KNX-26 for Aldermere and KNX-27 for Erickson). For more information on the application process and the apprenticeships, contact the Aldermere Farm office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-236-2739