Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture

Practicum

The UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture

The UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture is a six (or four)-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.  The program is open to all; you do not have to be a UBC student (see details below for minimum qualifications).

Click here for the 2018 UBC Farm Practicum Overview.

Click here for the 2018 Application Form.

Deadline for Early Admission is Oct 2nd. Final deadline is Nov 5th.

To stay informed of our latest updates regarding UBC Farm Programming (including the Practicum Program), please sign up for our weekly newsletter.

FAQs

The UBC Farm encompasses 24 hectares of integrated farm and forest lands on UBC’s South Campus. The farm is managed by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, which offers a wide range of interdisciplinary learningresearch, and community programs on the site. Together, these programs explore and exemplify new paradigms for sustainable communities.  Situated within a 90-year old coastal hemlock forest, the UBC Farm comprises a mosaic of cultivated annual crop fields, perennial hedgerows and orchards, and successional forest stands. The farm is home to a range of research projects and university courses. Community involvement is integrated throughout its Children’s Learning GardenIndigenous programmingfarm markets, community workshops, and a robust volunteer program.

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. In addition, Practicum students visit a number of local farm operations to provide a regionally grounded food system context, and to make personal connections with experienced food growers.

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, six-month program balanced through the season with approximately 70% seasonal field production and direct marketing activities and 30% classroom, farm field trips, faculty and guest speakers, group discussions and student presentations.  For more detailed information about the program, click on the Program overview.

Prospective students are encouraged to visit the farm 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 register for a volunteer session or workshop, attend a Saturday Farmer's Market, or otherwise participate in the vibrant learning community we foster.

Every year a Practicum Open House is hosted at the beginning of the fall season before the application deadline.  This year, our Open House at the UBC Farm occurred on  September 16th, 12 pm – 2 pm; and we provided a forum to ask questions, meet current practicum students, and receive a tour of the site.  To stay informed of our latest updates regarding UBC Farm Programming (including the Practicum Program), please sign up for our weekly newsletter.  If you missed this year's Open House, note that we offer public tours of the Farm every Saturday at 11 am (until Oct 28).  No registration is needed.  Meet at the information booth at our Farmer's Market.

The application period for the 2018 Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture is now open.  Click here to access the online application. A $25 CAD application fee is required, to be paid online once the application form is submitted. For the 2018 program, we have three application pools:

  • Early Admission (Full Program)
  • Regular Deadline (Full Program)
  • Regular Deadline (Summer Option)

The Early Admission pool offers highly competitive applicants an opportunity for a quicker decision to be made on their status. Every application received on or before October 2nd will be automatically considered for Early Admission.  All early applicants not receiving Early Admission offers of admission will be added to the Regular pool of applicants.

All applications for the Regular Deadline pool are due by November 5th. All applications received after midnight November 5th (Pacific Standard Time) will be considered “Late” and may or may not be considered.

  • A subset of the Regular Deadline pool is the “Summer Option”.  In 2018, there will be very limited spaces for this option, so we encourage you to only apply for this option if your schedule truly prohibits you from attending the full program.  The dates of enrollment for the “Summer Option” are April 13th to August 25th.  Students completing the “Summer Option” are eligible (additional action is required) to receive academic credit (6 credits via APBI 365).

  • Basic English fluency (as determined via the interview)
  • Minimum age of 19
  • Physical stamina to perform basic farming tasks over the course of the season
  • Ability to stay and study in Canada for the entire duration of the program.

Although no prior experience in farming or gardening is necessary, it is looked upon favorably.  Successful applicants are usually strongly committed to exploring food production or food sustainability education as a central part of their future.  To be clear, you do not need to be UBC student, or a student at all.  We welcome international applicants.  It is common for students in the practicum cohort to be between the ages of 20-45, though we certainly welcome (and have had several) older students as well.           

UBC students completing the full program are eligible to receive up to 9 academic credits (6 credits via APBI 365 and 3 credits via APBI 465).  “Summer Option” students are eligible to receive 6 academic credits (via APBI 365).  Further action is required to obtain credits.  If interested, please let us know in your application.

If you are a non-UBC student interested in receiving academic credits, please inquire.

No.  In fact, recently, the majority of our practicum students have not been UBC students.  Moreover, 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 certainly welcomed and encouraged to participate in the Practicum program provided the program schedule works with their academic commitments.  To make the practicum program even more accessible to students, we offer a "Summer Option" (April 13-August 25). 

Program fees for 2018 are $4,240 (Full Program); and $3000 (Summer Option).

Accepted students must pay an initial $440 deposit and the remainder of the fee in February 2018.

Participating in the UBC Farm Practicum program does not provide eligibility for student financial aid.  We currently don't have funding to provide opportunities for scholarships.  (In the past, however, we have worked to accommodate students of limited means to pay the program fee in two installments.  If interested in this option, please notify us after acceptance into the program.)

We are very appreciative that through the generous support of Choices Market, we will be able to provide approximately $100 for seed purchases for each practicum student.  Moreover, Choices Market will offer one practicum student an opportunity for part-time employment.

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 program, many students plan for limited work hours during the busiest and most physically demanding May-August portion of the schedule.

The program meets from April 13, 2018 until October 20, 2018 (with the “Summer Option” beginning on April 13, 2018, and ending on August 25, 2018). During this time period, the program meets Thursday-Saturday, for approximately 20 hours per week.

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 5-7 hours/week in additional off-program time to establish, care for, and maintain their individual and shared plot spaces, and to complete assignments.

Yes!  We certainly welcome applications from international applicants, but unfortunately we do not have the staff availability or resources to provide information or support regarding immigration, visa requirements, or housing. If you live outside Canada and have family here who can provide support, or if you are already a currently enrolled UBC international student with up-to-date 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.

Although the Practicum is not a degree program, students who complete all program requirements will receive a Certificate.  In addition to the knowledge and skills obtained through the program, students often indicate that the program presented a valuable opportunity to integrate into the Vancouver and regional farming community.

Alumni start their own farming operations, obtain jobs on farms, pursue advanced degrees related to agriculture and food systems, work in an educational capacity on farms and gardens, or work off-farm jobs related to creating a sustainable and socially just food system.  Others pursue homesteading projects or other career paths.  Long after they've graduated, we continue to support our alumni by sharing job and land access opportunities with them.   See below for specific examples of the paths of a few of our alumni.

Simone McIsaac and Sarah Stewart (2008) - Rootdown Organic Farm

Simone and Sarah met while in their practicum at the UBC farm in 2008, and are now co-owners of Rootdown Organic Farm, a mixed vegetable farm serving restaurants, grocery stores and CSA members in the Pemberton and Whistler area... Read More

Samantha Gambling (2013) Farm to School BC

Samantha became a member of the UBC Farm family in the 2013 growing season. She transitioned straight from the UBC Farm Practicum to a Master's degree program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, where she studied agricultural policy and food sovereignty in the BC dairy industry... Read More

Katie Selbee (2013) Twin Island Cider

After completing the Practicum in 2013 I went on to do a year of mixed-vegetable CSA farming at Farmers on 57th, as well as an orchard internship at UBC Farm. I have since moved to Pender Island and started Twin Island Cider... Read More

Dave Semmelink (2014)Lentelus Farms

Dave established Lentelus Farms about half way through UBC Farm’s Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture. The Practicum helped him build many strong connections including... Read More

Robert and Stacey Spring (2015) Upbeet Farm

Since completing the Practicum, Robert and Stacey spent a couple years pursuing other educational opportunities before beginning their dream family farm in earnest.. Read More

If our webpage and the program overview did not fully answer your questions, please send an email to the Practicum Coordinator, Seth Friedman at ubcfarm.practicum@ubc.ca.  In addition, here is a short video that features a practicum alum.

The Practicum would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the following: West Coast Seeds, Choices Market, Young Agrarians, Vancouver Urban Farming Society, Groundswell, Vancity, Dr. Art Bomke, and Anonymous.

If you or your company/organization would like to support the Practicum program, please contact us: ubcfarm.practicum@ubc.ca