Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture

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The UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture is an eight-month experiential learning program designed for aspiring farmers, urban gardeners, environmental educators, and students with an interest in applying their learning about sustainable agriculture and food systems. Students bring a diversity of backgrounds and life experience to the practicum. Our program graduates share a vision of livelihoods and lifestyles grounded in sustainable and community-based food systems.  See the program overview here.

The practicum program is hosted at the UBC Farm, a living laboratory of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. The UBC Farm is the site of the majority of farming activities, guest speaker presentations, and classroom sessions. Practicum students also have the opportunity to travel to a number of local farm operations, produce distributors, and farmers’ markets to provide a regionally grounded food system context, and to make personal connections with experienced food growers.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit the farm and meet UBC Farm staff prior to applying to the practicum. This gives applicants a better understanding of the hands-on nature of the program, along with a better sense of the UBC Farm community. Interested participants are invited to join in a volunteer session and participate in the vibrant learning community we foster.

We are pleased to announce that our 2014 Practicum student team has been formed and we are no longer accepting applications this year.

Check back in August 2014 for our practicum open house-tours schedule and for the re-opening of our online applications.

If you have any questions about the program, please send us an email.

Practicum Coordinator: Seth Friedman
General inquiries: ubcfarm.practicum@ubc.ca.

The practicum is a hands-on educational program designed to provide a full growing season of food production experience to anyone with a strong interest in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture curriculum is organized as a part-time, eight-month program balanced through the season with 70% seasonal field production and direct marketing activities and 30% classroom, farm field trips, faculty and guest speakers, student seminars and workshops. See the program overview here.

No prior experience in farming or gardening is necessary, but you will need to be strongly committed to exploring food production or food sustainability education as a central part of your future.

No. Although the UBC Farm hosts the majority of activities for the practicum program, acceptance to the UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture does not imply acceptance or enrolment in UBC. Practicum students do not pay UBC student fees, receive a student card, or UBC benefits. Enrolled UBC students are welcome to participate in the Practicum program provided the program schedule works with their academic commitments, and with the understanding that the Practicum is a not-for-credit program.

Program fees for 2015 are $4,000 in total. Accepted students will pay an initial $400 deposit by December 2014 and the remaining $3,600 fees one month before the practicum begins in February 2015. Fees for the program cover experienced field and classroom instruction, faculty, guest speakers and workshops on a broad range of production-focused topics, farm field trips, facilities, and operating costs. A portion of these costs are off-set by the contribution practicum students make to production and marketing focused activities on our campus working farm, and the remaining fees are set to operate the practicum on a cost-recovery basis.

Since 2012, through a generous private donation, we have offered a $1,000 merit-based award designated as the Robin Wheeler Scholarship to the graduating practicum student with the top farm-food business plan. In 2014, with the generous support of our Whole Foods Living Naturally Fair funds, practicum students will be eligible for merit-based scholarship awards ranging from $250-$1,000. These funds are intended to provide additional support to practicum students for basic tools or equipment as they complete the program and launch new farm or gardening enterprises.

Participating in the UBC Farm Practicum program does not provide eligibility for student financial aid.

Yes. Because of the high-cost of living in the Vancouver area, most UBC Farm Practicum students do hold part-time jobs or pursue seasonal employment while participating in the program. We have structured the program schedule to accommodate this reality. That said, to get the most out of the eight-month program, many students plan for financial support and limited outside work hours well in advance of the busiest and most physically demanding May-August portion of the schedule.

We meet from the first week of March until the first week of November. From March to early May we meet only once per week on Saturdays for a 7 hour day. From May-August we meet four days/week – Wed & Thurs mornings and all day Fridays & Saturdays – for a total of 21 hours. In September and to the end of the program in November, we transition to meeting twice weekly for 15 hours.

To successfully complete the practicum, we require 90% attendance of scheduled program hours.

We have found that students benefit the most when they plan for an average of 5 hours/week in additional off-program time to establish, care for, and maintain their self-study individual and shared plot spaces.

We post the UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture applications in August here.

We welcome applications from international applicants, but we do not have the resources to provide information or support regarding immigration, visa requirements, or housing. If you live outside Canada and have family here who can provide this support, or if you are already a currently enrolled UBC international student with up-to-date student visa credentials, you will find the process less complicated.

No. At this time, we do not have any possibility of on-farm housing. If you are considering this program and are not from the Vancouver area, we recommend checking online rental boards and shared housing options. See http://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/other-housing/off-campus-housing/ for resources.