Located in Ferguson, Mo., Earthdance Organic Farm School is the oldest organic farm west of the Mississippi River.
Earthdance is the only organic farm school that offers a part-time national apprenticeship program and this year marks its tenth year in operation with more than 320 St. Louis area participants in the apprentice program.
“Seventy-seven percent of [the apprentice students] are working or volunteering in this organic farming movement,” Molly Rockamann, founding director, said.
This program is for people of all ages interested in learning about healthy, raw, homegrown food, and how to maintain it in a hands-on, community environment.
“When apprentices join the farm for the first time, there’s a whole range of levels of experience, so we really try to have a framework include everybody and meet them where they’re at,” Eric Steven, farm manager, said.
The apprenticeship commitment is 10 hours a week for 26 weeks. Each student of the apprenticeship program brings home a share of harvested food each week.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Danielle Valli, apprenticeship student, said. “But, everyone’s doing it because they value organic, local food.”
“Our end goal is to try to empower them, to where they can actually have a career out of it,” Stevens said.
Earthdance also invites school groups throughout the St. Louis region from public to private to universities to visit the farm for field trips and classes.
Earthdance specifically works close with the Ferguson-Florissant school district by sharing an abundance of fresh food for student lunches.
“From the very beginning,the dream of Earthdance was to help others around the world and around the country to start organic farm schools for their communities,” Rockamann said.
For more information on the farm school or to sign up for their apprentice program, go to earthdancefarms.org.