The South Whidbey School District, Good Cheer Food Bank, and the Whidbey Institute are partners in the Community Gardening Leadership Training that combines learning practical growing skills in small-scale food production together with developing the leadership skills needed to initiate and manage community gardening programs.
This training is for motivated individuals who wish to gain skills for future leadership positions in the field of sustainable community gardening. In this program, community gardening primarily refers to food bank gardens, school gardens and other non-profit gardens that rely on volunteers, and community outreach and support to grow food.
Local non-profits, the School District, community volunteers and supporters, and a growing population of young farmers are collaboratively shaping a community-driven food system that addresses issues of health, education and food access on our rural island. For the past five years, interns have had the opportunity to work within this network and explore their interests in community food systems and food production, as well as to help strengthen it with their energy and ideas. With the skills cultivated in this program, many interns have moved into jobs in education, agriculture, and community gardening.
- South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden program
- Good Cheer Food Bank Garden
- Whidbey Institute Westgarden
Interns will be selected to focus on and learn one garden system well, but will also gain a broad set of skills and experiences by working together in the other gardens. It is the goal of the program to help interns develop the skill sets, knowledge and self-confidence so that they confidently move into leadership roles in a selected garden.
The interns will assist the garden coordinators in all aspects of garden production, and develop leadership skills in project management, volunteer coordination, community outreach, curriculum development and teaching. There will be regular classes and readings on practical growing skills and seasonally specific garden activities. Field trips to other community gardens/farms/non-profits will also be an important part of the training.
Interns start in March and continue through October. Shorter terms may be possible, but preference is given to those who can commit to the full season.
We are the first non-profit farm program to participate in the Washington State Farm Internship Project, which enables us to pay a stipend and offer workmen’s compensation. In our program, interns are “apprentices” in the traditional sense of the word, where apprentices work alongside experienced gardeners and move into leadership roles as the season progresses.
Gardens in the program:
Good Cheer Garden
- One apprentice is selected for the Good Cheer Garden.
Whidbey Institute Westgarden
The Westgarden of the Whidbey Institute is a .4-acre garden that provides produce to the Food Bank and Whidbey Institute programs and is the outdoor classroom for Learning from the Land service learning programs. While this garden grows a diversity of vegetables, its scope is much wider. Its forest location, medicinal herbs and dye flowers make this garden a healing space as well. It offers volunteer opportunities for those in programs at the Whidbey Institute, as well as garden-based curriculum for the local Waldorf School.
South Whidbey School District Farm and Gardens
The South Whidbey School District Farm and Gardens grow for the school lunches, and will be providing garden-based curriculum to grades K-12. The gardens also grow produce for the Good Cheer Food Bank and Whidbey Island Nourishes. South Whidbey is the first school district in the nation to deliver produce on a regular basis to a Chartwells-managed food service.
- The new ½ acre School Farm provides garden-based curriculum to the South Whidbey Academy and the Elementary School while growing for the cafeterias.
- Langley Middle School Garden is a small (10 bed) garden cultivated by the Seventh Grade science classes, and grows produce for the cafeterias. There are plans to double the size of the garden this year.
- The South Whidbey Elementary School Garden is a tiny garden of raised beds cultivated by the Second Graders.
- Interns will be growing and delivering fresh produce to the cafeterias each week, as well as teaching garden-based curriculum, and cultivating the garden with the students.
- Two interns are selected to work at the School Farm and Gardens.
- Leadership skills: Project management, volunteer coordination, work party coordination, outreach and publicity, curriculum development, teaching and public speaking, working with youth, service learning.
- Sustainable agricultural practices: Soil cultivation, growing starts, planting, weeding, irrigation, harvesting, produce management, hoophouse cultivation, crop rotation, composting & vermiculture, record keeping.
- Ongoing mentoring and regular check-ins to support the personal and professional growth and development of the apprentice.
- This training may qualify you for internship credit. Please check with your advisor.
- Hours and duration: The training runs from March through October 31st. Each intern should expect to work a flexible 35 hr week, seasonally variable, with some weekend work as needed.
- Compensation: We currently can offer a stipend of $300 per month and this amount may increase depending on fundraising. We are participating in the Farm Internship Project of the State of Washington.
- Housing will be in a home-stay, or, if selected as the Whidbey Institute intern, in a rustic cabin.
- Transportation: The gardens are about 5 miles from each other. A car is handy, but a bicycle is sufficient. There is free bus service on the island, but connections between the gardens are not ideal. We make every effort to support interns who choose low-carbon bicycle transportation.
- Food: from the gardens and Food Bank.
- Interview process: Final applicants will be interviewed in person or by Skype.
- Applications requested by January 15th, 2015.
To apply, please send application to
Below is a graphic of the interconnections in this community-based program. For the pdf, click HERE.