Stepping Stone is a working farm that funds itself. Student farmers will experience a market garden that is affected by all the things you might expect, and some that you might not expect..
Much of the curriculum is covered by daily work in the field but it is augmented with formal sessions that cover topics from Organic Farming Principles to Enterprise Planning and Budgeting. Learning is flexible and paced and tailored to each individual intern. Each intern will get their own list of learning outcomes and we will work to make sure everyone achieves all the skills and knowledge they need.
The mentor farmer is Joyce Wilkie who has 35 years market gardening experience, has developed organic farming courses and mentored many successful farmers and market gardeners.
Ideally a student farmer should experience a full 12 month cycle in order to understand the rhythmic nature of the seasons. It is not until you repeat the annual cycle that the seasonal patterns begin to make real sense. However, we understand that in reality volunteering for 12 months in exchange for an education is a difficult ask and only viable for few people. We do however expect a minimum commitment of 3 months.
Applicants should ideally have some farming, gardening, or relevant experience and be aiming to establish or work in a commercial market garden business at the end of the program. You must be able to work in Australia, speak English, and have the literacy skills necessary to study, communicate and operate a business. You should also be physically fit and able to do manual farm work.
There is no accommodation provided but the committee has a list of places where the student farmer can live rent free/low rent/rent in exchange. The committee will help the student farmer find the right match of accommodation for their needs. Food is supplied from the farm and interns enjoy a substantial mid-day meal each working day.
The working week is flexible to allow interns to obtain some off-farm work to cover expenses. This is a small community and the committee has many contacts to help look for casual work if needed.
We are accredited for Centrelink Job Seeker Volunteer work if you qualify.
The objective of the farm is to graduate competent and confident market growers that have the skill, knowledge and experience to start their own market farming enterprise.