BIPOC Beginning Farmer Apprenticeship Program: 2022 Report
We created Frontline Farming’s Apprenticeship Program as a path for beginning to intermediate Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) growers of all ages to gain the fundamental skills needed in the movement toward personal and communal food sovereignty. The program set out to provide a culturally supportive and immersive environment for community, education and advocacy within food systems. This program taught participants land-based skills to empower emerging leaders and food activists. The training covered farm planning, soil renewal and deep personal reflection as we affirmed historical divorce from the land and reignited our cultural connection to the earth.
This second year of the program ran for 28 weeks, 8 weeks longer than the pilot in 2021. Apprentices were welcomed on April 18, 2022 and graduation was held on October 22, 2022. We had a total of 81 applicants, a whopping 170% increase from the first year. We admitted a larger cohort of 12 apprentices in 2022 and graduated 4 apprentices from the program. Apprentices participated in 20 hours of education each week which included regularly scheduled classes and experiential training in-the-field. As was expected, there was attrition of program participants throughout the summer with reasons ranging from family emergencies, to work conflicts, to disparate expectations in program vision and mission.
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 to honor the work it takes to farm. 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).
Hosting this program for a second year in a row taught us a lot about the desires of aspiring farmers, the demands of farming, the needs of our own farm and staff, and the needs to adjust certain aspects of this program. At the conclusion of this year, the program was overhauled to create two separate pathways for beginning farming in future years. Details about the changes this program underwent, and how they were decided upon, are included at the end of this report.
Most importantly, we want to congratulate Alexis “A-Rod” Rodriguez, Amenta Yawa Abioto, Gabriela Galindo, and Rachel "SunRai" Sims on graduating from our second cohort of the Frontline Farming Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Farmer Apprenticeship Program. In seeking data sovereignty, each graduate received a personalized, private report with analyzed data collected on their participation in the program. While FrontLine Farming collected the data, we recognize the ownership of the data remains in the hands of the participants. We are blessed to have had the opportunity to learn and grow alongside you in 2022. We look forward to seeing the different ways you’ll utilize your experiences, knowledge, and skills from this program in your communities.