Legal guidelines for on-farm labor and learning

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 11/15/2019
Grant Recipient: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Jennifer Hashley
Trustees of Tufts College / New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: apprentice/intern training, labor/employment, risk management
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, employment opportunities, partnerships, quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    Work-based learning such as apprenticeships and internships are viable strategies for growing sustainable businesses and transferring skills and knowledge to a younger generation. Farming benefits from work-based learning because the transfer of farm knowledge is usually best done one-on-one and hands on. Currently, information on the legal requirements and knowledge about apprenticeship and internship labor laws on farms in New England is not readily available to farm business owners. Existing apprenticeship and mentoring programs desire shared guidelines and best practices to meet clearly articulated learning goals for producers apprenticing and gaining farm management skills. Developing a shared curriculum and best practices will elevate the quality of apprenticeship programs serving producers throughout New England. This project will bring together farmers and organizations sponsoring agricultural apprenticeships to identify gaps in current programing and develop new resources and training materials for farms looking to improve their management or facilitation of apprenticeship learning. The partnership project team will: research existing apprenticeship program design, curricula, and operations to understand best practices and successes/challenges, liaison with the Department of Labor in five New England states to understand formal Apprenticeship requirements for diverse agricultural sectors, and develop a comprehensive “Designing and Delivering a Quality Legal Apprenticeship Program in New England” Toolkit for regional distribution. Three regional workshops for farm mentors will allow Apprenticeship programs to share best practices, receive professional development, evaluate resource materials, and set agendas for future programming.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our goal is to strengthen New England apprenticeship training programs to provide high quality, legally compliant experiential education and training for beginning farmers. The question is “Will providing accessible information and training on the legal requirements for formal apprenticeship and internships reduce the risk for farm employers and improve learning outcomes for prospective farmers?” The objective is to research, analyze, and evaluate current programs in order to address gaps in curriculum for on-farm apprenticeship learning and improve professional development for farm mentors. In cooperation with our project partners, we will develop resources, training materials, and suggested “best practices” for farm mentors.

    The project objectives are:

    Objective 1: Assess Resources: Research, review, and assess existing curricula and identify gaps in mentoring resources
    Objective 2: Research Formal Apprenticeship Requirements working with Department of Labor in each New England state.
    Objective 3: Develop a New England Apprenticeship Training “Toolkit”
    Objective 4: Disseminate Educational Resources through broad outreach, three regional workshops, and connections to agricultural service provider networks.
    Objective 5: Support a Community of Practice and learning network for apprentice training programs.
    Objective 6: Track and Evaluate Project Outcomes to assess the effectiveness of project outputs and develop a framework to evaluate apprenticeship outcomes.

    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.