Aspiring Farmer Residency

Cultivating Food System Leaders with In-the-field Experience

Central to Big Muddy Urban Farm’s mission is the Aspiring Farmer Residency, which offers an accessible educational experience building skills, growing community, and cultivating local food system leadership.

Residency at a Glance

Every season, Big Muddy Urban Farm invites aspiring farmers, urban gardeners, environmental educators, and students with an interest in applying their learning about sustainable agriculture and food systems to their selected fields to apply for the Aspiring Farmer Residency. The aims of the program are for Residents to gain greater familiarity with farming techniques, business models, and seasonality; to develop their language of food; and to gain awareness for informed future decision making in the food system and/or leadership in their community. We pursue these aims through a 9-month, live-in urban agriculture training residency.

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IMPORTANT DATES AND CONSIDERATIONS

Application Deadline

Applications close at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, December 7th, 2022.

Term

The Residency Class VII term starts on January 31st, 2023 and ends on November 1st, 2023. The Residency is a live-in commitment for the length of the term with move-in starting on January 31st. An orientation meeting will be scheduled prior to moving in.

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Schedule

Program activities revolve around a part-time, 20-25 hours per week commitment on a set schedule.

Residents are expected to participate in all program activities including training seminars, field trips, farm tours, farm work hours, community engagement activities, and house and checkin meetings, unless mitigating circumstances or requested off.

Throughout the course of the term there will be additional time and project commitments that Residents are expected to fulfill. These activities are related to independent conservation projects and mentorship visits that are supported with stipends related to Residents involvement in the Center for Rural Affairs Conservation Fellowship program.

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Calendar

Spring Training. From the start of the Residency in February going into mid-May there is a spring training phase. Activities during this time frame include going to the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Conference, team building, beginning of crew lunch, seminars from guest instructors on method, technique, and terminology, as well as venturing out for a field trip or two. It also involves the planning and preparation for growing and building of marketing materials. Farm tasks progressively pick up from starting seeds, watering in the greenhouse to soil preparation and transplanting with chicken care throughout. We begin to support organizing efforts of community events such as the Annual Seed Share and Earth Day Omaha. Residents begin to develop their independent conservation project ideas and meet with mentors as part of the Conservation Fellowship program.

Farm Season. By June, the 18-week season begins! Harvesting and going to market are folded into the mix as well as tending the growth of crops and chicken care. Community events such as Youth Garden, 33rd Block Party, North Omaha Summer Arts Festival and more are on the calendar. Residents are implementing their independent projects and meeting with mentors. Community groups come by for an occasional hands-on farm tour and we visit nearby farms for field trips and networking events. The team comes together on publishing a weekly newsletter. We checkin, learn, and enjoy the trails and tribulations throughout the season. The season closes with the last market at the end of September.

Celebration and Reflection. We begin to wrap-up activities and work on our next steps. All major supplies are brought back to campus from the fields, we plant garlic for the following residency group to harvest, and we put beds to rest. We celebrate the culmination of weeks of farm experience and hard work with an event at the Residency campus. After the celebration we go on a retreat to decompress the season and share out feedback. Residents move at the end of October.

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Eligibility

  • Post- High School, ages 19+ (high school graduate, in college or college graduate). The average age of Residents is 22 years old.
  • Commitment to 9-month, live-in program
  • Ability to meet 20-25 program hours per week and additional hours related to Conservation Fellowship involvement.
  • Interest in sustainable agriculture and farming
  • Ability to work in a team environment and be a respectful roommate and neighbor with fellow residents
  • All backgrounds and experience levels welcome
  • Can work in various weather conditions
  • Professional, mature demeanor and work ethic

Benefits

  • Spacious housing in a recently renovated home in the Gifford Park Neighborhood of Omaha, NE.
  • Coverage of tuition costs which include supporting guest instructors and farmers, traveling and lodging for a conference, travel for field trips, supplies, and staff and administration time.
  • A spot in the Center for Rural Affairs Conservation Fellowship which includes mentorship experiences and independent project support
  • Communal living, learning, and meals – get your recipes ready to share!
  • hands-on experiential education growing food for community, a skillset that will last a lifetime
  • Gain a network of friends and farmer friends
  • Access to tools and workshop space
  • transformative self-development
  • No fee application

Application Process

We host an open call application process for the Aspiring Farmer Residency. The application form will be open from November 3, 2022 until the deadline of 11:59 pm on Wednesday, December 7, 2023.

The application consists of contact + personal information, resident guidelines agreements, 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 google doc version of our application here

After you submit an application you will receive an acknowledgment email of your submission. 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 after the application deadline. We plan to make Resident selections no later than December 31st to give select residents lead time and preparation to move into the residence on January 31st, 2023.

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Questions?

We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about the program or application. Send us a message at info@bigmuddyurbanfarm.org.

THE FARM AND LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Greenhouse Management

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

In the beginning stages, residents will learn techniques, efficiencies, and record keeping in propagating and caring for multiple trays of vegetable and flower seedlings in a greenhouse setting. Residents 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, residents will learn techniques, efficiencies, and record keeping in propagating and caring for multiple trays of vegetable and flower seedlings in a greenhouse setting. Residents 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 Residency.

In the spring, residents 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 residents, 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, residents 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 residents, 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 25′ x 32″ garden bed sizes on average. 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 25′ x 32″ garden bed sizes on average. 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, lessons we will cover in the spring training portion of the residency. As any pest or weed issue may arise during the season, residents 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, lessons we will cover in the spring training portion of the residency. As any pest or weed issue may arise during the season, residents 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, residents 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, residents 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.

Residents take what they grow to various market outlets to gain in-the-market business perspectives on sales, customer trends, and marketing for various outlets. Outlets consist of community supported agriculture shares, farmers markets, retail sales, and donation based distributions.

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Market

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Residents take what they grow to various market outlets to gain in-the-market business perspectives on sales, customer trends, and marketing for various outlets. Outlets consist of community supported agriculture shares, farmers markets, retail sales, and donation based distributions.

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ENHANCING ENGAGEMENTS

Community Education Service Hours

Residents support community education during their term by their involvement of at least 20 hours of community education service by the end of term. Example activities residents choose from range from leading a lesson at the Gifford Park Community Garden Youth Garden program, tabling at community events such as Earth Day Omaha or North Omaha Summer Arts Festival, or developing and promoting their own urban agriculture skill-based public workshop.

Center for Rural Affairs Conservation Fellowship

Big Muddy Urban Farm is joining forces with the Center for Rural Affairs and partners Metro Community College and Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society to enhance the education experience during your Residency. Residents receive a spot in the Center’s Conservation Fellowship program that supports residents with individual mentorship experiences, classroom instruction on conservation practices, individual projects, in addition to other benefits. Please see the Conservation Fellowship website for more information about the program.

Farm Tours

Throughout the season we welcome community groups to come by for hands-on farm tours. We host 10 – 15 groups on average over the course of a season. Groups range from visitors from outside Omaha area, while some are partnerships with area schools, and some are with corporate business for team building activities.

ENHANCING ENGAGEMENTS

Community Education Service Hours

Residents support community education during their term by their involvement of at least 20 hours of community education service by the end of term. Example activities residents choose from range from leading a lesson at the Gifford Park Community Garden Youth Garden program, tabling at community events such as Earth Day Omaha or North Omaha Summer Arts Festival, or developing and promoting their own urban agriculture skill-based public workshop.

Center for Rural Affairs Conservation Fellowship

Big Muddy Urban Farm is joining forces with the Center for Rural Affairs and partners Metro Community College and Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society to enhance the education experience during your Residency. Residents receive a spot in the Center’s Conservation Fellowship program that supports residents with individual mentorship experiences, classroom instruction on conservation practices, individual projects, in addition to other benefits. Please see the Conservation Fellowship website for more information about the program.

Farm Tours

Throughout the season we welcome community groups to come by for hands-on farm tours. We host 10 – 15 groups on average over the course of a season. Groups range from visitors from outside Omaha area, while some are partnerships with area schools, and some are with corporate business for team building activities.

LIVING IN COMMUNITY

LIVING IN COMMUNITY

Residents live in two neighboring community residences near the farm plots in the Gifford Park Neighborhood in Omaha, NE. Each Resident has a private bedroom and participates in the upkeep of communal spaces. Living communally is a rich opportunity to develop communication skills, appreciate differences, 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.

THE PLOTS

APPLY TODAY

Be in class VII. Apply to be a 2023 Aspiring Farmer Resident Today!

Class VII (2023)

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APPLICATIONS CLOSE AT 11:59 PM on December 7th, 2022

GET YOURS IN TODAY!

 

Questions?

We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about the program or application. Send us a message at info@bigmuddyurbanfarm.org.