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WWOOF/Work-Trade & Apprenticeships plus PDC offered in Tennessee

Posts: 5
Location: The Farm, Summertown TN USA
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At The Farm Ecovillage Training Center we are creating a holistic, comprehensivist, "total immersion school," co-evolving creative designs that move us toward sustainability. All projects and buildings on site provides a walk-thru visit to the future. We have a large creek flowing through the Center and the headwaters of the Swan watershed are located on the property as well. Over 1000 acres of The Farm are designated as wilderness preserve.

The Eco-Hostel is an old Farm house that has been recently renovated and expanded. The house was originally constructed by members of the Farm in the late 70's out of completely recycled materials. Our renovations have included new dormitories, solar showers, rainwater collection, solar electricity, and wastewater-to-aquaponic recycling.

Over the past 20 years we have not generally been able to offer free room and board in exchange for work, but this year we are making an exception to allow for one-week "permablitz" work-exchange events in which we muster all the people who wanted to come as volunteers and tackle some large project, with work in the daylight hours and parties at night.

So as not to conflict with our instructional program, we have blocked off these dates strictly for the work-exchange program:

Apr 27-May 3
June 1-7
Oct 26-Nov 1

For the work-exchange program we will provide camping space, hot water showers, toilets and access to a kitchen, and not charge you anything. Alternatively, you can pay $50/week and get all that plus 3 meals a day, if you are willing to help with food preparation.

This year we will also be offering a permaculture design certificate for apprentices who attend for two consecutive months. We also provide mentoring in advanced techniques of permaculture, such as holistic management, aquaculture, natural building, keyline, and carbon farming, and will assist you towards a Permaculture Diploma or a self-directed B.S. or M.S degree from Gaia University.

Apprenticeships are on a month-to-month basis and can commence and end at any time. It is even okay to skip a month and return again later.

Attendance during orientation is required for all apprenticeships, however it is possible to come for a week and start early, before a monthly orientation, if scheduling is difficult.

For those coming as work-exchange volunteers, the orientation is highly recommended.

These are our orientation weeks in 2014:

Mar 30-Apr 5
May 4-10
June 8-14
July 6-12
Aug 31-Sep 6
Sep 28-Oct 4

Apprentices are expected to commit to a specific period of time for their stay. Once you have applied and been accepted, we will reserve your place and notify you.

For the apprenticeship program we charge for your subsistence (food, energy, transport, internet and lodging). For the 2014 apprenticeship the cost is $200 per week, which provides for all your food and lodging. Food is typically home-grown, locally grown organic from our garden, our Amish neighbors, or our regional food cooperative. If you have other local food and lodging arrangements that can be reduced. We are a non-profit educational institution not a for-profit working farm. Thus, we have little to work with in terms of surplus. What we offer is an unparalleled hands-on experience, working with some of the best educators and practitioners in the world.

Our primary focus in 2014 will be natural building with a view towards completing several large building projects on site that have been underway for more than a year. The construction includes hands-on experience with natural buildings of all types as well as the fundamentals of permaculture design and ecovillage master planning. This year we will be completely remodeling our Ecohostel, using our best techniques and "designing for enchantment." These are some of the most exciting and artistic parts of the natural building experience, and include creating natural paints and dyes, clay plasters, alis and fresco, and fine detail carpentry.

Other normal daily activities on site include poultry management; garden production from seed through harvest; compost, microbial teas, and soil amendments; fruit tree & bamboo maintenance; biochar fuel & stove development; and biodynamic waste-treatement aquatics systems management. Minor lab work may be involved, such as bacterial counts in soil samples. Possible field trips include the nearby Amish country, canoeing the Buffalo River, Earth Advocates Research Farm & bamboo nursery, Spiral Ridge Permaculture, Jack Daniels Distillery and more. Apprentices will learn ecology, energy and resource conservation, social and community skills, and the economics of sustainability. They can attend and observe all of the open community meetings and committee meetings within The Farm community. They will also have the opportunity to attend our monthly Transition Town meetings at our county seat to experience how these concepts translate to the county level.

We sometimes allow shorter apprenticeships if you are unable to attend for a full month, and we have available space because of cancellations, visa problems or the like. There is also the possibility of extending if we have space in the program to follow. To apply, contact us at

Conditions at the Center are primitive and tight but comfy. Facilities include a solar heated dormitory building with a small kitchen, indoor toilets and cozy studying area and library, as well as camping space. There is solar-powered lighting and wood heat.

Most frequently asked questions about our apprentice program are answered at

We hope this information provides some useful information on our program and that you will consider joining us this year.

Albert Bates

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