.California State Grange Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The Grange Farm School offers programs for diverse populations including farmers, home gardeners, and youth. In the first years of operation, Grange Farm School will offer our residential Practicum Student Program, and short-term workshops.
The core program, to be launched in 2015, will consist of three 3-month terms that will prepare the whole farmer, including curriculum on agricultural production skills, industrial arts, marketing and business skills essential to a profitable farm.
Practicum Student Program
The Grange Farm School will host its first Practicum Students in 2014. These work-study students will participate in the development of the Grange Farm at historic Ridgewood Ranch, while learning about sustainable, holistic, and integrated farming techniques. Practicum Students earn college credits through Mendocino College and have the option to live on site.
Students will be operating a 2 acre plot with row crops for market, tending both layer and broiler chickens, building fences and infrastructure, installing irrigation systems, and more. Other significant tasks will include building the infrastructure for the school, including renovating the school house, building student facilities such as housing, outdoor kitchen, and student bath-house with greywater system.
The work completed by students will provide an in depth and experiential knowledge of industrial arts as well as sustainable agriculture.
Expectations: Practicum students are expected to work an average of 25 hours per week on projects supporting the farm. Concurrent enrollment in Work Experience Education program with Mendocino College or a similar program is required. The Farm will cover registration costs at Mendocino College. Tuition is $2,000 per 3-month term, and many scholarships are available. Students have the option to live on-site for $1,000 per 3-month term. Housing includes a shared kitchen, bath, library, and commons. Students are provided with individual sleeping space in wall tents on platforms surrounding the house. Food will include basic staples and farm goods for three meals per day. Cooking and cleaning chores will be shared.
Term 1: March-May
Term 2: June-August
Term 3: September-November
A typical weekday student schedule:
Morning Chores 7:00am - 8:00am
Breakfast (students cook and clean at all meals) 8:00am - 9:00am
Guided farm and construction work 9:00am - Noon
Lunch and Siesta Noon - 2:00pm
Lessons on various topics 2x/week 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Guided farm and construction work 4:00pm – 6:00pm
This is only an example and the schedule will vary to accommodate field trips, guest instructor availability, weather, and farm needs. Some weekend duties will be required.
Curriculum: Focused lesson time will be offered to students to complement field based learning. Curriculum for lessons will cover diverse topics such as:
Farm and garden design Plant propagation
Tool use and safety Plant nutrition
Raising chickens Crop rotation
Composting Cover crops
Pest management Soil science
Irrigation Farm Finances/marketing
Alternative Energy Sources
Projects will vary by season: Spring students will focus on planning and planting, Summer students will focus on irrigation and planting, Fall students will build the hoop house and preserve the bounty of harvest. This list is only a small sampling of upcoming projects.
Capstone Projects: After one 3-month term of foundational learning, students have the option to apply for a second or third term and to develop their individual Capstone Project. These projects allow students to focus on an area of individual interest and guide their own learning. We provide a space for a wide range of independent projects, and we are excited to hear proposals from students who are curious self-starters. Examples of potential projects include:
- plan and construct worm composting system
- build a solar powered dehydrator
- design and plant cut flower garden
- build processing equipment such as root washer or chicken plucker