Frontline Farming’s Apprenticeship Program is a path for beginning to intermediate Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) growers of all ages who want to gain the fundamental skills needed in the movement toward personal and communal food sovereignty. We provide a culturally supportive and immersive environment for community, education and advocacy. It is our hope and determination to heal the pain and trauma from years of being subjected to systems of oppression throughout our historical bondage and use the knowledge of our ancestors to reconnect to the land for nourishment and reparations. This program provides land-based skills to empower leadership as growers and as food activists for the participants and their communities. The training covers farm planning, soil renewal and deep personal reflection as we affirm historical divorce from the land and reignite our cultural connection to the earth.
In it’s pilot year, the program ran for 20 weeks: from May 24th, 2021 to October 8th, 2021. We had a total of 33 applicants, 10 of whom were from out-of-state ranging from California to New York. As we launched a new program during the COVID pandemic, we admitted a small cohort and graduated our first 4 apprentices from the program. Apprentices participated in 20 hours of education each week which included regularly scheduled classes and experiential training.
While this is an education-based program we understand that labor is integral to the learning, thus we provided each apprentice with a monthly education stipend. Their training included: basic farm knowledge and skill development (including: composting and soil health, planting from seed & transplanting, safe use of farming tools and equipment, basic botany, organic pest and disease management, harvesting and preserving, and seed saving) as well as knowledge and practice in food systems and advocacy (including: conditions faced by BIPOC communities in the food and land systems, the cultivation of community through space creation and ceremony, connection to a network of BIPOC farmers and food advocates in the Denver area).
There were some learnings and changes made to this program after this pilot year, which will be recapped at the end of this report.
Most importantly, we want to congratulate Alma Arteaga, Kellsie Forfar-Jones, Quinn Martinez, and Victoria Vela on graduating from our inaugural cohort of the Frontline Farming Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Farmer Apprenticeship Program. In seeking data sovereignty, each apprentice received a personalized, private report with analyzed data collected on their participation in the program. We are blessed to have had the opportunity to learn and grow alongside you in 2021. We look forward to seeing the different ways you’ll utilize their experiences, knowledge, and skills from this program in their communities.