Blow your mind and become a True ninja Farmer

The apprenticeship at Atitlan Organics provides an opportunity for 5 committed individuals to hone their skills and learn the ropes of permaculture design and profitable farm management. As opposed to the Visiting Volunteer, apprentices are fully integrated into all aspects of farm management. 

Why am I excited about the new one month permaculture apprenticeship program starting at Atitlan Organics this October?

Here's why.

Up until now we have only had two ways to really connect and interact with the farm, through volunteering or through courses and workshops. Many people choose to participate in the workshop and then stay on for a few weeks to practice the newly learned skills in a real setting. This is great. Our volunteer program offers a chance for anyone to come and help out on the farm for a minimum of one week. Many people come for two weeks or less and have a great time. What I have seen is that while the 4 hour volunteer work schedule, as well as the depth of experience on the farm, works for many people. But some people want more.

Some people want more integration into the farm. To be relied on more and to learn more by doing and also by being taught. Here is an example.

Milking the goats is arguably the most important morning (and afternoon) chore that we do on the farm. For many years, only myself and Nicolas milked the goats. While we do offer all course participants goat milking opportunities, we have decided not to directly invite volunteers to join this activity. Why?
- It honestly takes at least one week to even begin to become proficient. Before then there is always spilt milk, spilt feed, and escaping goats.
- The milk is the most valuable daily yield from the farm. We cannot risk daily losses of milk due to inexperienced milkers.
- The goats can get infections or sickness if hygiene is not maintained, or if they are not milked correctly.

Thus, as it stands, we choose to only allow long term volunteers and people with previous milking experience to milk our goats.
By creating a one month apprenticeship, we can build a whole new schedule that integrates the apprentices into more of the daily rhythms of the farm.
 

What to expect

The apprenticeship includes the Intro to Permaculture workshop

The one month apprenticeship kicks off with the introduction to permaculture weeklong intensive. This provides all apprentices with the foundations in theory and practical technique that is needed to carry on throughout the month. The weeklong workshop is an amazingly transformative experience and apprentices are joined by other participants from all over the world. While the rest of the apprenticeship only includes breakfast and lunch, the weeklong workshop includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!

WORK IN AND EAT FROM THE APPRENTICE GARDEN

On the farm, there is now the Apprentice Garden, an area dedicated to feeding apprentices and volunteers, as well as to teaching apprentices the art of vegetable gardening. Vegetable gardening truly is an art and it is an instinctively natural form of human expression and creativity. It is a transformative process that you become part of. The Apprentice Garden is an amazingly powerful learning tool and each afternoon is dedicated to optional work time in the space. There is always something to do and the results are delicious. 

 

Weekly lecture series with local and international speakers

Lake Atitlan is an area rich with both indigenous and natural systems to learn from, as well as local and international permaculture practitioners that are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. The apprenticeship includes a weekly lecture series for apprentices only, as well as additional filed trips to other farms and communities that practice permaculture and alternative living. 

Weekly Reading Assignments with group discussions

Each week, the apprentices receive assigned reading that is in some way connected to Permaculture and alternative living. Each week will include a weekly discussion where ideas relating to the readings are discussed and  turned over. The readings may connect to the weeks lecture, but may not. They will likely connect with something going on at the farm at that time. 

MILK THE GOATS, TEND THE NURSERIES, AND CARE FOR BABY CHICKS AND PIGLETS

Apprentices are deeply connected to the farms main activities, which include raising animals and growing vegetables and fruits. Performing all of the morning chores alongside an experienced guide enables apprentices to become competent in most aspects of basic small-scale animal husbandry and organic market gardening. Needless to say, the apprenticeships may not be best suited for people who are not interested in working with animals. 

Swanky food and lodging

Apprentices stay at the Bambu Guest House, which offers, large shared rooms with bathrooms, hot showers, and balconies with crazy views in each room. There is also, wifi, an amazing permaculture library, and a super chill onda. Apprentices work M-F and get breakfast and lunch on the farm, from almost all farm products. Dinners and weekends are left up to apprentices to decide what to do. There is a guest kitchen at the Bambu Guest House and meals are often prepared and eaten communally. A note that during the first week of the apprenticeship, apprentices participate in the weeklong workshop and receive all three meals a day, plus snack, coffee/tea, and dessert.  

Schedule

The new apprenticeship schedule looks like this:

7AM - On farm, milking goats, tending chickens, hens, pigs, and the nursery.

8:30AM - Breakfast on the farm, with eggs, goat dairy, coffee, veg, fruit, and more from the farm.

9:30AM - Work session with Volunteers, Farm Manager, and Volunteer Coordinator

12:30AM - Big Farm Lunch on farm, chill out time.

2PM - Apprenticeship Garden Care. Time to get real in the garden. Apprentices have their own garden that they work in and eat from. This time is optional, but encouraged. A little lite gardening in the afternoon can do wonders.

3:30 - Chill Out Time. Communal dinners are prepared by apprentices in the Guest Kitchen at the Bambu Guest House.

Furthermore, there is a weekly lecture series and weekly group discussion based on assigned readings.

This is the chance to hone your skills and learn what homesteading, permaculture design, and organic market gardening is all about.

This apprenticeship is for people who want to learn more and get hands-on practice in a real functioning environment.

Price

The price of the one month apprenticeship is $895. This includes the full apprenticeship as well as shared lodging for the entire month at the Bambu Guest House. It also includes the full weeklong introduction to permaculture course, as well as all three meals a day, snack, coffee, and desert during that week only. The other three weeks, after the weeklong workshop, a big farm breakfast and lunch are included on all work days, M-F.  This also includes all field trips, guest lectures, and electronic permaculture resources.