An Internship Curriculum for Food Farmers in the North Central Region

2012 Annual Report for FNC12-896

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $22,319.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:

An Internship Curriculum for Food Farmers in the North Central Region


We had a great learning internship in 2012 which included 6 small farm visits, 10 workshop days, weekly educational media sharing (mostly rented movies) and a weekly permaculture book club type gathering. We hired 4 full-time and 4 part-time interns in 2012, mostly funded with SARE grant money, to work on the farms and help develop curriculum modules. The module topics came from previous beginner farmer curriculum work from SARE funded projects. Interns were expected to expand on the previous research by adding information particular to the North Central Region as well as permaculture ideas and practices whenever possible and to culminate the experience in a Power Point presentation using current media whenever possible. We required at least one developed module per intern as part of our contractual agreement for internship pay. With grant money we provided a library of resources for reading and research. Each intern was able to keep a couple of the books purchased. Food and snacks where provided for interns during workshop seminars. I spent time over the winter months editing and refining module PowerPoint presentations. The module editing has taken more time than expected but has been a great education for myself as well.

We currently have 12 modules in varying stages of completion. The first 6 modules have gone to the next level of editing at Purdue University where Steve will make comments and return the modules for any final editing before we make modules available to a public website. Our 2013 internship curriculum will include these educational module PowerPoints with a survey from participants on the value of presentation and content. Year one modules included soil science, soil fertility, composting, cover cropping, seed starting, direct seeding, transplanting, greenhouse, pest and disease management and some small farm livestock modules. Therese Zimmerman and Charlotte Wolfe attended an agriculture education seminar/workshop at Shelburne Farms in Burlington, Vermont March 8-11, 2013. The seminar included three days of well-planned sharing with 22 small farming enterprises present. Many topics were covered from Project and lesson plan sharing, problem solving techniques, farm system designs and marketing and funding educational programming. We both found it worthwhile. Possibly the best result was the network of resources in materials and people that resulted.


  • We have developed a 6-part workshop series on small farming topics for the beginner farmer offered in 2013 to our interns and the general public through local NRCS offices (see attachment).
  • We have edited and sent the first 6 sustainable farming modules created by 2012 interns to Purdue University partners for final editing comments (with six more to follow).
  • We have acquired 6 fulltime interns for summer 2013 to continue work developing education modules for a beginner farmer curriculum as a result of publicizing our internship program on 10 college internship sites, the ATTRA internship site, WWoofers USA internship site and our own farm websites.
  • We have refined and improved our book reading list to include Joel Salatin’s, You Can Farm and Nicole Faires’ The Ultimate Guide to Permaculture. WORK PLAN FOR 2013
  • Six full-time interns total have been secured for summer 2013 on the three project farms starting in May and working at least 12 weeks each.
  • Interns will continue with module development. We intend to accomplish 12 or more this summer with timely editing. Interns will be required to work on and present their first module as the first work of the season instead of the last as last year (learning curve for us). This will work better for self-guided You Tube making throughout the season and will make it possible for peer editing.
  • Six workshops will be conducted by project farms and offered to the public through NRCS postings and mailings of individual farms.
  • Our Beginner Farmer Web site will be developed and Modules will be made public as they are final edited in the Fall.
  • An Early Spring 2014 Workshop for Farmers will be developed and marketed for the February/March time frame. The focus of the workshop will be adding a curriculum component/Internship to their small farm enterprise. Marketing will be done locally and on websites of all farms.
  • The Beginner Farmer website will include 24 completed modules by end of April 2014.
  • I hope to write a new SARE grant to continue this work for inclusion of more modules including each crop family.


  • Our first year workshops were attended primarily by our interns and several community members who are involved in our farms.
  • Marketing for our results will be accomplished in 2014 with a website resource and a workshop for Beginner Farmers spring 2014.
  • We will have a direct link on our own websites to the Beginner Farm resource website which will also post the Beginner Farmer Workshop.
  • Our six part workshop series this season is offered to the public and is posted at local NRCS offices.

Objectives/Performance Targets



Ben Hartman
Clay Bottom Farm
Clay Bottom Farm
11434 CR 34
Goshen, IN 46528
Charlotte Wolfe
Prairie Winds Farm
21439 Osborne Rd.
Lakeville, IN 46536
Office Phone: 5743441753