The Agroforestry Apprenticeship Program: On-farm and online training for the next generation of agroforestry farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 04/14/2022
Grant Recipient: Savanna Institute
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Kevin Wolz, PhD
Savanna Institute


  • Fruits: apples, berries (brambles), berries (other), paw-paws, pears, persimmon, plums
  • Nuts: chestnuts, hazelnuts
  • Animals: sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: mentoring
  • Farm Business Management: labor/employment
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, drift/runoff buffers
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community services, employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change

    Proposal abstract:

    Agroforestry, the management of trees together with crops and animal production, is increasingly recognized as a key to mitigating climate change while providing environmental and socioeconomic benefits.  However, a critical barrier to successful agroforestry adoption and implementation by farmers is the lack of intensive training opportunities in agroforestry.

    This program provides experiential and technical education for aspiring agroforestry farmers through on-farm training, online agroforestry coursework, and field trips to other agroforestry farms throughout the Midwest. The apprenticeship program aspires to reach socially disadvantaged and limited resource beginner farmers with little experience in agroforestry by addressing the socioeconomic barriers that prevent historically marginalized groups from engaging in educational agriculture programs.

    The intended outcomes of this training program include: (1) training the next generation of agroforestry farmers by connecting them to practicing agroforesters through an on-farm apprenticeship, (2) providing community-building opportunities for farmers, apprentices, and those interested in agroforestry, (3) ensuring program accessibility and support to historically marginalized and low income groups through diversity, equity, and inclusion training to mentor farmers and through paid apprentice employment, and (4) making the training days and online coursework developed for the apprenticeship program additionally available to broader farmer and public audiences.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Connect 10 apprentices with experienced agroforestry farmers (mentors) who will provide season-long, on-farm training throughout the Midwest. Target reach: 10 apprentices
    • Increase accessibility and engagement by socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers in the apprenticeship program. Target reach: 5 apprentices.
    • Build community and train apprentices in agroforestry practices and techniques by organizing 10 public field days at host farms. Target reach: 200 attendees.
    • Create multimedia agroforestry educational materials via online course materials and podcasts. Target reach: 2000 views/listens.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.