Yu-Shing has just finished up her first season farming on an educational farm in California as an apprentice. She joined the farm late in the season after another farming job in British Columbia didn’t pan out due to COVID shutdowns.
I felt like I had the classic knowledge and scientific basis of farming, and it was centered on larger scale agriculture – that’s what my (college) program centered on as well as the nitty gritty details of soil ecology, which I love. But I’m interested in food production and food security – how can I actually be involved in the production of food and working on food access in my community.
*I would like to work with somebody who is willing to train young farmers who are maybe not as well-versed in farming, not necessarily an apprenticeship, but someone willing to take on the risk with someone not as familiar with farming.
*I would also like to work with someone who considers sustainability from multiple dimensions: how are my actions contributing to the community, contributing to social welfare, immigrant workers, etc.
*Someone who is also willing to be more innovative and creative, and not necessarily doing everything by the book – if there is a farmer with a different idea of how to do something, being willing to be open to that – allow that person to bring in the outside knowledge into the farm.
What are some challenges that you’ve faced as someone farming on not your farm? The rest of the apprentices were paid a stipend. I had just come on as extra help, and they weren’t paying me. In the beginning I thought it was fine partly because I had some family issues and really wanted to leave and live somewhere else, so it was also a desperate move for myself. Once I was there for a couple months and talked to apprentices and was working really hard to put in my hours and more, it started to feel a little odd that I wasn’t getting paid and that the other farm apprentices were paid so little.
As grateful as I am for that opportunity, I think this model unfortunately shows how undervalued farming and farm workers are in our society. They (management) were saying it was the end of the season and I’d be there for such a short period of time that paying me didn’t make sense, but now I know to value my hard work going forward.