Help Ella go to Farm School

June at Quail Hill Farm, harvesting garlic scapes.
I started farming 6 years ago after studying Food Science my freshman year in college. We were in the lab doing an experiment on broccoli and suddenly, I realized I had no idea what a broccoli plant looked like. I realized that if I really wanted to understand food, I would have to get down to the roots of it. I was a city kid who had never seen a working farm before, so I took on an apprenticeship at a little farm in Western Mass. I spent that summer picking strawberries at dawn, digging purple potatoes and eating lunches of cherry tomatoes and sweetpea blossoms, and so began my love affair with farming.The garden at the farm school

While in school, sitting in classes discussing such devastating environmental and social injustices, I resented the inaction. Farming became my purpose, a means to serve the Earth and the precious people who live on it. Over the past few years of working on organic farms in the Northeast, I've learned so much about the workings of our food systems and have seen examples of sustainable ways to bring good quality food into communities. It's time now for me to reach out farther and learn in a more structured way so that I can be a better leader in this growing and important field. 

One of the orchards

I was recently accepted into a Horticultural Ecology Apprenticeship at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

The Apprenticeship provides training in the concepts and practices of organic gardening and small-scale farming. This full-time program is held at the Center's 30-acre Farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UCSC campus. The program combines in-field training and hands-on experience in greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and fields, and traditional classroom studies.Topics covered during the six-month course include soil management, composting, pest control, crop planning, irrigation, farm equipment, marketing techniques, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) practices. Since its founding in 1967, the Apprenticeship has developed into an internationally recognized program that blends the virtues of experiential hands-on learning with traditional classroom studies. Graduates have established their own commercial farms and market gardens, run community gardens for inner city and prison populations, and developed school gardening programs. I hope to create or work for an organization that helps to provide healthy, organic meals for the elderly and disabled, but first I need to solidify my farming knowledge and learn the skills it takes to organize community food systems of that nature. And my acceptance into this program is a great opportunity for me to work towards that goal. 

A farm student in the field (this could be me!)

The tuition is $6,000 plus board and educational fees.* I am grateful to have recieved a $2000 scholarship from donors to the program. I just finished my first full season at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, New York. I am currently working three jobs; helping with the Winter CSA weekly pick ups at the farm in Amagansett, assisting an elderly couple in East Hampton, and working part time at a health food store in Sag Harbor. I am grateful to have saved $3,500 so far during my time here on Long Island, it's modest, but it's a lot of money for me and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to spend this money on my education. Despite working full-time and my savings, I am sad to admit that I'm beginning to consider the feasibility of attending the program. After considering travel and living expenses, food, educational costs (books, tools, etc.) and the prospect of sacrificing an entire season of income, I have to admit that I'm feeling very financially vulnerable. But this program is the difference between me working another low wage position for another season, and having the opportunity and training to accept a more valuable position. 

*The Breakdown: 

Tuition $6000 (-$2000 scholarship) 
Food $600
Tools & books $350 (approximately)
Total: $4950

Go Fund Me takes 8% of donations for processing fees so I'm asking for $5381, to make up that difference. 

This figure does not take into account travel expenses, or emergency or spending money for the 6 months of the program, I'm hoping with your help I can cover those costs with my savings.

Unfortunately, The apprenticeship program is run through the UCSC Extension, which does not offer any financial aid, work-study or loan program.
My only options are to take out a personal loan ... or ask my community of friends, family and supporters of sustainable agriculture for help, and this is where you come in!

With your donations, you could help me make this possibility a reality and keep me afloat during my time at the program, the opportunities that will open up for me with this training will be life-changing and significant for my future in farming.  Your money will go directly to tuition and tools, books, and food during the 6 months of the program. 

AND if the deal of supporting your favorite young farmer isn't sweet enough... let me sweeten the deal by offering to donors who contribute $50 or more, a Unique 2015 Farm Fresh Calendar, featuring illustrations of seasonal vegetables, handdrawn by Yours Truly. ( great new years gift!)

here's a sneak peak of april!   
Thank you so much for your time and your help. I'm bursting at the seams with tender gratitude. 

Love and Light, 


Sunset at Farm School
please help me go to here :)


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Ella Fleming 
Northwest Harbor, NY
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