Beginner Farmer Training Program

Program Overview

The Beginning Farmer Training Program provides aspiring farmers a strong foundation from which to launch and grow their farm businesses. In this immersive educational program, students have the opportunity to gain farm production and business knowledge in a variety of settings that appeal to different learning styles. Throughout their time in the Training Program, the next generation of motivated, hard-working farm entrepreneurs gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to begin working towards their farming goals.

Beginning Farmer Training

Classes & Curriculum

Curriculum combines lectures by farmers and agricultural professionals, hands-on field experience, and farm visits to expose students to topics critical for a future in farming. During the seven-month Training Program, lessons focus on crop production, business planning and marketing, and culminate in a personal business plan.To learn more about the Training Program curriculum, take a look at our detailed program content


Classes start February 8th, 2024 and last through the middle of September. Classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., and two Saturdays per month at the Center for Land-Based Learning or at other nearby locations.

Tuesday classes starting in mid-May are reserved for field work in the educational plot. Each student must choose one Friday per month from mid-April to September to work in the field. This gives students an opportunity to learn in a smaller group and practice production skills.

  • Each student must also work four Sunday mornings between June – September with the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program Mobile Market.
  • New optional tracks will be available for participants who want to go more in depth on subjects such as livestock and orchards/permanent crops. These optional classes will occur on Wednesday evenings.
  • Two individual meetings with the Program Manager are scheduled outside of class time.
  • There are (2) one-week breaks during the seven-month program.
  • Classes and activities are conducted in English.
  • All Yolo County COVID-19 protocol, if applicable, is followed.
  • Admission Requirements & Application Process
  • Dedication to a future in farming.
  • A commitment to participate in 7-10 hours of training per week. These hours are spent in the classroom, doing field work and on farm tours. Additional time will be necessary for homework and developing a business plan.
  • Transportation to attend classes in Woodland, CA and at other nearby locations.
  • Some previous experience with farming is preferred.

Phase 1 – Application

Complete and submit your application.

Phase 2 – Review

Farm Academy staff review applications on an ongoing basis as they come in. Take your time filling out the application. Detailed, complete applications can speed up the process and is beneficial to the admissions process.

Phase 3 – Interview

If your application is selected, you will be notified by phone for an interview.

Phase 4 – Notification

CFA staff will review applications and will reach out via email to notify you of your status.

Phase 5 – Enrollment


The cost of tuition for the 2024 season is $5150. Tuition covers:

  • Classes
  • Hands-on experience
  • Individual meetings with the Program Manager
  • Farm visits

Printed curriculum materials are provided, as are the necessary machinery, tools and supplies for the activities. Scholarships are available to support tuition costs. The California Farm Academy offers veterans tuition assistance and encourages veterans to apply.There is no application fee, however full or partial payment for the program is required upon acceptance in order to secure a place in the session. If minimum payment is not made by the due date, the participant will lose their spot in the program and it may be offered to a wait-listed applicant. A 10% surcharge will be deducted from any refund of fees after a student withdraws from the program. Once class has started, course fees are non-refundable.

More information

Jon Kupkowski, Beginning Farmer Training Program Manager

(916) 400-9480

Sri Sethuratnam, California Farm Academy Director

(530) 795-4146

California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program

The California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program prepares individuals for key farm management positions by providing practical experience, valuable skills, connections to farmer mentors, and an industry-recognized credential. We connect aspiring farm managers with established farmers who provide a space and opportunity to develop and practice the skills needed for a career in farm management. Apprentices can also be existing employees that farmers have identified as a future manager. For these apprentices, the program provides a structured pathway for knowledge, skill, and leadership development to take on a new role on the farm.

How it Works

The Apprenticeship Program combines paid on-the-job training with job-related coursework. The program lasts approximately two years, and upon completion of the Program, the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards graduates apprentices to a Journeyman level in the occupation of a Beginning Farm and Ranch Manager. Apprentices complete 3,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training by working on a production farm with a farm employer. On-the-job training takes place on diverse commercial production farms across California ranging in size from 2 acres to 4,000 acres, and including both organic and conventional practices. Apprentices will also complete a minimum of 250 hours in coursework over those two years. Coursework is completed in a hybrid format which does require travel to our Woodland, California headquarters location. 

For more information on the Apprenticeship Program, please contact us.

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