Food & Farming
Hawthorn Farm offers a 120 hour program focused on helping provide students with the skills necessary to run a small organic farm, homestead, or garden. Located on our 3 acre vegetable and medicinal herb farm, this course centers around hands-on experience in the garden alongside knowledgeable farmers, designed to cultivate an empowered and healthy life.
The Hawthorn Farm Program draws from several approaches to food production and land management such as permaculture, biodynamics, and bio-intensive farming, providing students with a range of strategies to create their own farms and homesteads. The course explores some philosophical, sociopolitical, and spiritual approaches to farming while delving into the fundamentals of the practice of farming.
Concepts & Principles
AGRICULTURE: THEORY & PRACTICE
This section focuses on the history of agriculture, exploring the themes of wildness and domestication in looking at the progression of humanity from our origins as hunter-gatherers to the current state of industrial food production. Students will look at food production strategies that take environmental and human health concerns into account, and those that ignore the environment and human health. A deeper understanding of the historical and social context in which we are choosing to be farmers will help us to create an ethic around how we want to grow food, and what we choose to eat.
RITUAL & CEREMONY
The texture of our lives as farmers is shaped by the seasonal rhythms of sowing, harvesting, and eating. How do we want to honor that in our lives? Program participants will create their own rituals around planting, harvesting, cooking, or eating, and share those with the rest of the group.
SOIL FERTILITY & COMPOSTING
Just as our health is a product of the food we eat, the health of the plants that sustain us is a product of the soil in which they grow. Students will deepen their understanding of our soil as a product of geological and biological forces that have occured over a long period of time. We will look at the components that create a healthy soil, using different methods to create compost as well as using different plants as cover crops.
PLANTING: STARTING SEEDS AND TRANSPLANTING
Students will develop an understanding of planting times, when to begin seeds in the greenhouse, sow seeds in the field, and how many days from planting until harvest.
HARVESTING/POST HARVEST HANDLING
The health of the food we eat is greatly affected by its freshness. Through proper post harvest handling practices we can encourage greater freshness and longevity of our food. Students will learn the most efficient, effective ways to harvest and wash a variety of vegetables.
This section explores the business side of farming; how to take our hard-earned crops and transform them into a livelihood. We will look at various approaches to marketing, including farmer’s markets, CSA models, and wholesale selling. Students will have the opportunity to participate selling produce and herbs at a farmer’s market
Farming for the Future
SEEDS & SEED SAVING
In this section, students learn the basics of how different crops pollinate and bear seed, as well as an understanding of plant breeding and selection. We will grow several crops through the course of the season, saving their seed towards the end of the year.
Participants will understand the possibilities and opportunities of season extension, winter farming, and year-round harvesting, learning the crops that lend themselves to winter production, their planting and harvest times.
Students will learn to preserve vegetables and fruits in several different forms, including canning, dehydrating, pickling, and lacto-fermentation.
GROWING MEDICINAL HERBS
This pillar of the farm program focuses on the plants that heal and restore. Students will have the opportunity to interact with and hopefully befriend a variety of medicinal herbs, perennial and annual, as we work with them through various stages of their life process, study their character and learn their benefits.
HORTICULTURE/ BOTANY/ TAXONOMY
Students will develop a basic understanding of botany and plant parts, along with an ability to identify all of the families of the common vegetables and weeds, their seasonality, growth tendency and reproduction strategies.
ENTOMOLOGY: PESTS & BENEFICIAL INSECTS
Students will learn to identify the common garden pests and beneficial insects of this region and how they affect plant health. We will practice several strategies to encourage beneficial insects, as well as strategies to deter or kill pests.
Botany & Entomology
Program participants will develop the ability to use the common forms of irrigation, and understand the advantages and disadvantages of both systems. We will explore water conservation strategies
Students will learn the ability to safely and competently use the tractor, including use of the bucket and the tiller, and an understanding of the basic types of tractor attachments and their use.
Body mechanics & awareness and proper tool use.
Mechanics of Farming
Limited to 10 students.
Essays and Readings.
TOOLS & GEAR
Students will need modest clothing for temperatures ranging from 50 to 95 degrees, coverage for sun exposure (e.g. hat), and muddy conditions (e.g. boots).
Gloves if ya like!
We will not be offering this in 2020. Thank you!
The Farm Program is geared towards anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of agriculture and homesteading, regardless of prior experience. We welcome people with an excitement for farming that have not worked on farms or studied agriculture, as well as those who have experience in the garden.
Farming & classes are held in Williams, OR on the Hawthorn Farm. Information about the exact location is provided upon acceptance to the program.
We offer apprentice positions to discount the price of the Farm Program.
To learn more about work trade responsibilities and tuition discount, contact us at info@Hawthorn-Institute.com.
How to Apply
Step 1 - Send Application - We will not be offering this in 2020.
Send in your completed 2019 Sustainable Farming Program Application with a $150 deposit.
Make checks payable to: Hawthorn Institute.
Mail deposits to:
PO Box 460
Williams, OR 97544
Email applications to (applications are also accepted via snail mail):
Step 2 - Schedule an Interview
A confirmation will be sent in receipt of your application and deposit. Included are details about scheduling an interview.
An in-person interview is highly recommended for students in the area. Students coming from out-of-state are required to participate in a phone or online interview.
Interview will not be scheduled until deposit is received.
Step 3 - Upon acceptance...
You will receive:
program calendar, course listings and catalogue, required and recommended reading list, a student handbook describing Hawthorn policies and FAQs, and other program materials.
Step 4 - Pay tuition balance
-Certificate of Completion of 120-Hour Program