Author: Melissa Fery, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University

Publish Date: Fall 2015

As Rogue Farm Corps ‘FarmsNext’, full season farm internship program has expanded to reach new regions of Oregon, OSU Extension Small Farms faculty are supporting these efforts by teaching classes and participating on planning committees. With continued interest from people interested in learning how to farm and in time start their own farm business, a hands-on internship is an invaluable way to learn the realities of farming.

The South Willamette Valley chapter, which is completing their second growing season, had seven interns on four hosts farms this year. “The interns attended seventeen classes covering topics from soil science to seed saving, rotational grazing to poultry processing,” says Katy Giombolini, the chapter coordinator. “They also convened once a month for social potlucks and discussions on different topics like starting your farm and continuing farm education.”

Teagan Moran who interned on Ruby and Amber’s Organic Oasis in Dorena, Oregon this season shares that “The farm internship has provided exposure to farming as a way of life, not just as a “job”. This means access to all of the beautiful and messy parts of farming - farming in relationship, farming and living on the same site, farming with other jobs, farming for the love and for the profit (or lack thereof), it’s access to the emotional, physical and even spiritual side of farming. For my husband, Justin, and I, this internship has solidified our decision to enter farming as a way of life and we understand the complexities of that decision.”

FarmsNext combines hands-on training and skill-based education in sustainable agriculture. The program boasts that while living on commercial family farms and ranches, interns will receive up to 1500 hours of field training with a mentor farmer and have time for farm-based independent study. With chapters now in the South Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Central Oregon and in the Portland area, there are more opportunities for involvement.

“The stories we have heard provide access to information not found in books. One of the greatest benefits has been the networking opportunities, access to farmers in the heart of the season and stepping into a community that will provide lasting inspiration and ultimately support as we carry on the farming path,” says Teagan.

If you have an established farm business and have a passion to teach and work with the next generation of farmers, consider learning more about being a host for the 2016 growing season.

Rogue Farm Corps is now accepting applications for host farms. If you are someone interested in living and breathing farm life, applications for internships will be available in early November. The internship program begins each year in March-April and ends between October and November. For more information about FarmsNext or FarmsNOW, an apprenticeship program designed for those seeking mastery in the art and business of farming, go to http://roguefarmcorps.org