Farmer Training

The Seed Farm provides new and aspiring farmers with hands-on, practical training that they will need to own and/or manage a diversified vegetable farm. On our 42-acre site in Emmaus, PA, participants learn a variety of skills that are critical to new farmer success.

We have been working on training program developments; and over the next few months, we look forward to offering new, more accessible training opportunities for farmers, gardeners, and community members with varying levels of experience. Stay tuned!

  

Photo credit Allison Czapp.

Training in Critical Skills and Knowledge

Operating a farm (even a very small one!) can be expensive and risky. To increase a new farmer’s chance for success, The Seed Farm offers training in skills and knowledge that minimize risk, maximize efficiency and productivity, and manage costs. Our workshops and courses cover the following topics and more:

Production Training

  • Greenhouse
  • Seeding
  • Transplanting
  • Irrigation
  • Soils
  • Cover crops
  • Good Agricultural Practices
  • High tunnel management
  • Crop rotation
  • Record keeping
  • Risk management
  • Pest management
  • Weed management
  • Season extension
  • Harvest/ post-harvest
  • Compost management
  • Soil & water testing

Crop Planning

  • Knowing your markets
  • Understanding crop seasons
  • Developing necessary maps and schedules
  • Ordering seeds & supplies

Equipment Training

  • Tractor Safety and basic operation
  • Basic equipment maintenance
  • Small tools for efficiency
  • Tractor based cultivation, seeding, weeding

Business & Marketing

  • Market research
  • Insurance options
  • Organic certification
  • Assessing financial resources
  • Farmers’ Market management
  • Wholesale account management
  • CSA management
  • Enterprise budgets
  • Business structure
  • Business planning
  • Special events
  • Group/volunteer facilitation

 

Strategic Partnerships 

The Seed Farm partners with other organizations to deliver a wide variety of training opportunities, including formal courses through Penn State Cooperative Extension and workshops with Pennsylvania FarmLink and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, to name a few. In this way, our site serves as a living classroom, providing opportunities for demonstration and experiential agricultural training for the greater Lehigh Valley community.

Farm Labor Experience

If you are planning to start your own farm, we highly recommend starting your journey by gaining working knowledge of a commercial farm. Spend a season (or more) working on a local farm; or if your availability is limited, become a volunteer.  World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, is another option that provides opportunities for volunteers to gain experience on organic farms around the world.

Working experience will teach you the pace and pressures of a commercial farm, and it will provide you with critical farm labor skills so that you are better prepared to successfully run your own farm.

If you need help finding a farming job in the greater Lehigh Valley, please contact us and we will do our best to connect you with hiring opportunities in the area.

 

 

Farm Start-Up

Emma market Planting onions

Ready to start a farm of your own? We can help.

Complete a Pre-application Interest Form if you are interested in farming at The Seed Farm in 2019.

The Seed Farm Agricultural Business Incubator was created to meet the needs of new farmers that did not grow up on farms and therefore lack access to land, equipment, and capital.

On our 42-acre site, we provide access to land, infrastructure, equipment, and mentoring in order to break down the barriers to farm entry. We can help connect you with service providers, new markets, even promotional opportunities while you build a solid foundation for your farm business.

Current incubator farms:

Bee Well Blooms
Cut Flowers

Periwinkle Flower Farm
Cut Flowers

Aegir’s Hall
Honey

Our incubator program is available to new farmers who can demonstrate adequate farming experience and solid marketing and business plans. There are three levels at which farmers can join the incubator: Explorer, Steward, or Enterprise.

Incubator farmers at the Explorer level have some gardening or farming experience, are ready to start hand-scale farming on small plots (1/8-1/2 acre), and receive weekly check-ins and technical assistance. Steward-level farmers have completed farm apprenticeships or internships, and they benefit from frequent mentoring from Seed Farm staff and other area farmers. Enterprise-level farmers have a few more years of experience under their belts, and can assume a mentoring role on the farm.

Resources available to incubator farmers include:

  • 1/8 – 5 acres of land per farm;
  • cooler, greenhouse, and dry storage space;
  • tractors and implements;
  • wash/pack facilities;
  • water and irrigation system;
  • mentoring and technical assistance;
  • ongoing training opportunities.

The Seed Farm staff is on-site and accessible so that we can assist you with developing effective production and marketing techniques, and solving with weed, pest, and other problems, as they arise. Monthly “farm update” meetings between the Program Director and all incubator farmers facilitate information- and idea-sharing, a critical component in building an effective learning community.

If you are interested in launching your farm business in our incubator in 2019, please complete and submit an Incubator Pre-application Interest Form. We will review your plans/goals and will contact you to discuss available opportunities for farming at The Seed Farm. Submission of a pre-application does not guarantee placement in the incubator.

Recruitment Focus: We will select up to 5 new farm businesses to join the incubator next year. We are especially seeking farm plans that include the production of culinary & medicinal herbs; brambles; compost; eggs; meat birds; or mushrooms.

Please contact us if you have questions.

 

CSA Workshare Program

Trade labor hours for veggies in 2019

Announcing The Seed Farm’s 2019 CSA Workshare Program

Join our team in 2019 by taking part in the CSA Workshare Program! In exchange for working 3-4 hours per week between June and October, you will earn one weekly CSA half-share.

  • Choose a shift day/time* (we prefer that you keep the same schedule each week!):
    • Mondays between 7 am – 3 pm (2 spots available)
    • Tuesdays between 7 – 11 am (2 spots available)
    • Wednesdays between 7 am – 3 pm (1 spot available)
  • Expect to help with planting, weeding, harvesting, washing vegetables and totes; plus an assortment of other farm jobs.
  • Be prepared to work outside in the sun or rain, where you’ll be on your feet for hours at a time. Many jobs require bending over, kneeling, squatting, or lifting loads of 25+ lbs. People who have physical limitations are welcomed to apply – we still have some tasks that are just right for you!
  • You’ll need to be dressed appropriately for the weather and supply your own water bottles, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, rain gear, and footwear.
  • Students, teachers, and others who are only available through August: please apply for the time that you have available!

If you are interested in joining the 2019 Workshare Program, please click here to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The workshare season will begin the week of June 17, 2019.

*If you are not available regularly or  during these shifts, please consider signing up to be a Seed Farm volunteer!

Please email Lindsey Parks, Executive Director, with questions.

© 2019 Second Harvest Food Bank