Aspiring Farmer Fellowship

Cultivating Food Systems Leaders with In-the-field Experience
Our 2022 Fellowship has begun! Open call for applications is usually in August
check back in August or sign up for our fellowship application reminder list for 2023!

Program Overview

Activities: 14 Spring Training workshops, grow a 1-acre market farm business as a team, field walks, food systems tours, chicken care, community building, and serving with community partners

Support: stipends (living + health care), housing, and fully funded tuition

Commitment: communal living, eagerness to learn, 40 hours a week, participation in the full days in varying weather that is involved in farming and community engagement. No growing experience necessary to apply.

Start Date: February 1 (orientation in late January)

Location: two houses, three chicken coops, and five farm plots all located in the Gifford Park Neighborhood of Omaha, NE

Questions: Don’t hesitate to reach out to Brent at director@bigmuddyurbanfarm.org with any program question you may have.

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Program Overview

Activities: 14 Spring Training workshops, grow a 1-acre market farm business as a team, field walks, food systems tours, chicken care, community building, and serving with community partners

Support: stipends (living + health care), housing, and fully funded tuition

Commitment: communal living, eagerness to learn, 40 hours a week, participation in the full days in varying weather that is involved in farming and community engagement. No growing experience necessary to apply.

Start Date: February 1, 2022 (orientation in late January)

Location: two houses, three chicken coops, and five farm plots all located in the Gifford Park Neighborhood of Omaha, NE

Questions: Don’t hesitate to reach out to Brent at director@bigmuddyurbanfarm.org with any program question you may have.

THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Spring Training

For 14 weeks starting in February, we access the rich knowledge base of growers in our surrounding area to come in as guest instructors. Workshops include topics such as introductory soil health, plant propagation, chicken care, food injustice, market presentation, and business and regulatory environment, to name a few. Spring training is designed to prepare fellows with techniques to activate during the real-world practice of the ensuing growing season.

Photo: 2016 Resident Cadence Hernandez Planting a seed in Spring.

 Mentorship

While Spring Training transitions into the growing season, each fellow is paired with a mentor to touch base monthly. The mentorship component connects fellows with experienced growers to help transfer knowledge and skills to fellows while they encounter questions, challenges, and successes in their experience.

Photo: 2017 Resident Gavin Johnston with Terry Troxel of Iowana Farms

Field Walks

As a team, fellows walk the six plots in the neighborhood. Field walks are scheduled once a week in the spring and then once a month during the growing season. These walks are moments to take a full breath in as a group, gain an understanding of seasons transformation, and pull in what is unfolding at each of the six farm plots in a meditative, peer perspective sharing space.

Photo: 2020 Residents examining the beginning growth in a raised bed at California St Plot.

Food Systems Tours

Over the course of the fellowship, we venture out to visit 14 nearby farmers and food systems businesses. Food systems tours typically involve an operational tour of the farm/business as well as a helping hand activity for fellows to gain broader experience and tips that they can bring back to their daily farm practice.

Photo: 2021 Residents on tour with James Tolston at Lotus Gardens

THE FARMING EXPERIENCE

Greenhouse Management

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Vibrant life to grow and tend, all starting from seed!

In the beginning stages, fellows will learn techniques, efficiencies, and record keeping in propagating and caring for multiple trays of vegetable and flower seedlings in a greenhouse setting. Fellows take turns on the daily upkeep of seedlings that eventually leads into the hustle of spring planting season.

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Greenhouse Management

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In the beginning stages, fellows will learn techniques, efficiencies, and record keeping in propagating and caring for multiple trays of vegetable and flower seedlings in a greenhouse setting. Fellows take turns on the daily upkeep of seedlings that eventually leads into the hustle of spring planting season.

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Chicken Care

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Chickens greet fellows with their unique personalities on day one of the Fellowship.

In the spring, Fellows go through the process of building and selecting a flock, from day-old pullets and nurturing them until maturity at one of our three chicken coops. Chicken care is a shared duty amongst fellows, requiring AM and PM duties that can include collecting and washing eggs, feeding and watering, predator monitoring and problem solving, and coop cleaning. Please give consideration to your interest in working with chickens as their care is a regular responsibility throughout the duration of term.

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Chicken Care

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In the spring, Fellows go through the process of building and selecting a flock, from day-old pullets and nurturing them until maturity at one of our three chicken coops. Chicken care is a shared duty amongst fellows, requiring AM and PM duties that can include collecting and washing eggs, feeding and watering, predator monitoring and problem solving, and coop cleaning. Please give consideration to your interest in working with chickens as their care is a regular responsibility throughout the duration of term.

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Preparing Soil & Planting

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There are a range of soil types we learn from in the urban environment.

Over the course of Big Muddy Urban Farm’s history, we’ve practiced crop rotation and work with standard growing beds sizes of . Fellows go through the process of taking soil samples and analyzing soil test results with amendment processes throughout the experience. A hallmark of our farming philosophy, leaving the land healthier for the next generation.

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Preparing Soil & Planting

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Over the course of Big Muddy Urban Farm’s history, we’ve practiced crop rotation and work with standard growing beds sizes of . Fellows go through the process of taking soil samples and analyzing soil test results with amendment processes throughout the experience. A hallmark of our farming philosophy, leaving the land healthier for the next generation.

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Weed and Pest Management

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Learn to achieve organic yield by farming with preventive measures and identify solutions as issues may arise throughout the season.

We use a range of Integrative pest and weed management techniques from row cover, to intercropping, mulching, and cover cropping, all lessons we will cover in the spring training portion of the fellowship. As any pest or weed issue may arise during the season, fellows work together to identify, research, and implement solutions based on group consensus. As the growing season unfolds, weeding becomes a weekly if not daily practice ranging from using specialized tools to the thorough work of hand-weeding.

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Weed and Pest Management

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We use a range of Integrative pest and weed management techniques from row cover, to intercropping, mulching, and cover cropping, all lessons we will cover in the spring training portion of the fellowship. As any pest or weed issue may arise during the season, fellows work together to identify, research, and implement solutions based on group consensus. As the growing season unfolds, weeding becomes a weekly if not daily practice ranging from using specialized tools to the thorough work of hand-weeding.

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Harvesting

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With tending and planning, the fruits of our labor are enjoyed and a greater understanding of seasonality is appreciated.

Gaining experience from seed to harvest, fellows experience seasonality first hand and learn when and how to harvest a spectrum of vegetables for market. Harvest days can be long, with early mornings and mid-day post-harvest processing using Big Muddy Urban Farm field processing equipment and walk-in cooler storage facilities. The end result is a regular abundance of fresh produce, optimally stored and distributed weekly throughout the growing season.

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Harvesting

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Gaining experience from seed to harvest, fellows experience seasonality first hand and learn when and how to harvest a spectrum of vegetables for market. Harvest days can be long, with early mornings and mid-day post-harvest processing using Big Muddy Urban Farm field processing equipment and walk-in cooler storage facilities. The end result is a regular abundance of fresh produce, optimally stored and distributed weekly throughout the growing season.

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Market

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Experience the sense of worth of growing nouishing food directly for your community.

As part of the business plan, Fellows take what they grow to market to gain in-the-market business perspectives on sales, customer trends, and marketing for various outlets. Markets consist of Community Supported Agriculture shares, Farmers Markets, and retail sales. A majority of outlet determinations are made by Lead Fellows in the Business Planning stage using prior farm data. Our scale of production places us in fitting size community neighborhood farmers markets like The Gifford Park Neighborhood Market and Fairdeal Farmer Market.

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Market

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As part of the business plan, Fellows take what they grow to market to gain in-the-market business perspectives on sales, customer trends, and marketing for various outlets. Markets consist of Community Supported Agriculture shares, Farmers Markets, and retail sales. Our scale of production places us in fitting size community neighborhood farmers markets like The Gifford Park Neighborhood Market and Fairdeal Farmer Market.

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Meetings

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We grow as a team, achieving more together than alone, and meetings keep us organized toward our farming goals.

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COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Serve with Community Partner

Each fellow is placed with a nonprofit community partner to help with garden education programming. Fellows gain a better understanding of how to teach growing food and what distribution looks like from a nonprofit lens while also helping build the fellow’s professional network.

Neighborhood Support

As an urban farm, we have many activities going on throughout the week. Fellows are integral in building community and support through these activities such as neighbor meet and greets, farm tours, volunteer days, tool lending, food distribution, and youth garden programming.

Community Events

From Earth Day to Seed Share to Food Day Omaha, there are many tabling events we attended to promote gardening and building a community food system. Fellows support tabling events and connect with public audiences during their term.

Serve with Community Partner

Each fellow is placed with a nonprofit community partner to help with garden education programming. Fellows gain a better understanding of how to teach growing food and what distribution looks like from a nonprofit lens while also helping build the fellow’s professional network.

Neighborhood Support

As an urban farm, we have many activities going on throughout the week. Fellows are integral in building community and support through these activities such as neighbor meet and greets, farm tours, volunteer days, tool lending, food distribution, and youth garden programming.

Community Events

From Earth Day to Seed Share to Food Day Omaha, there are many tabling events we attended to promote gardening and building a community food system. Fellows support tabling events and connect with public audiences during their term.

LIVING IN COMMUNITY

LIVING IN COMMUNITY

Fellows live in two neighboring community residences near the farm plots in the Gifford Park Neighborhood in Omaha, NE. Each Fellow has a private bedroom and participates in the upkeep of communal spaces. Living communally is a rich opportunity to develop communication skills, appreciate differences, resolve conflicts, and learn from each others shared experience. Big Muddy Urban Farm staff supports this process through community-building exercises, meetings, and other practices. Mutual trust, honest communication, and respecting spaces are cornerstones of the community.

AGREEMENT

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The Aspiring Farmer Fellowship is immersive. It requires dedicated commitment from all fellows to get the most out of this unique opportunity and experience.

The quality of the fellowship experience hinges on the commitment levels of all fellows. The commitment made by fellows is participation in all workshops and tours, farm work hours, assigned community engagement activities, house meetings, and evaluations. Through grant funding and community support, we are able to provide housing, stipends, and tuition coverage for fellows in support of personal and professional development and learning while in the fellowship experience. A live-in commitment and 40 hours a week toward farming and community engagement is required for the full duration of the term. There will be some evening and weekend hours during the growing season. We encourage fellows to protect adequate time and energy for engagement in community life, commitment to partnerships, exploration of the city, and to live simply and within the means of the program. We ask fellows to limit substantial regular commitments during the fellowship term.

Term

Beginning Farmer Fellows

Start of Term: February 1, 2022

End of Term: October 31, 2022

Stipends and Coverages

Big Muddy Urban Farm covers monthly rent and utilities, including electricity, gas, water, and wireless internet at newly renovated community residences in the Gifford Park Neighborhood.

Each fellow receives a monthly stipend of $500 a month to offset living expenses while in the fellowship.

In addition to living stipends, each fellow may access a personal health care reimbursement stipend of $500 per term. Each house receives a food stipend for communal meals.

Big Muddy Urban Farm covers the tuition costs for fellows in the program including costs of administration, honorariums to guest instructors and farms, travel and registration costs for select conferences and the purchase, storage, and maintenance of tools for use.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Beginning Farmer Fellow Application

Use the request and application button below to let us know of your interest. Once we receive your application request, we will email you a link to our online application form. The application consists of contact + personal information, fellowship guidelines, short answer questions and references. We recommend writing out your answers in a separate document before you begin filling out this application. You can view a pdf version of our application here. After you submit an application you will receive an acknowledgment email of your submissions. We collect applications during the open call period of Monday, October 4th to Monday, November 8th. A four person selection committee reviews applications directly after the close of open call and we will let applicants know of next steps within two weeks of November 8th. We plan to make Beginning Farmer Fellow selections no later than November 30th to give select fellows lead time and planning to move in to the residence. Prior to moving in, there will be four orientation sessions the last two weeks of January. Moving in will be the weekend of January 29th/30th.