Farm and Gardening Training Programs in California
For those who want to develop hands-on skills in farming or gardening, there are a number of opportunities around California. Although not all are urban agriculture programs per se, the farming or gardening skills learned will apply in urban farm settings. A wide variety of programs are listed here, from community-based education programs to colleges and universities that offer a certificate or degree.
(Various locations throughout California)
UC Master Gardeners provide a training program with over 50 hours of classes, workshops, and consultation on gardening. Once trained, UC Master Gardeners volunteer, educating the public about gardening. Every county or region in California has its own Master Gardener program and they typically offer training every 1-2 years. Contact your
local Master Gardener Program
to find out when your local trainings begins and how to apply. Note that this program is focused on non-commercial, backyard gardening. Gardening skills are a great starting point for beginning farmers or those interested in growing food and plants for their own home use.
CSU Chico offers a B.S. in Agriculture with option in Crops, Horticulture, and Land Resource Management that emphasizes sustainable land use and crop production practices.
Mendocino College offers courses such as Biointensive Mini-Farming, Sustainable Agriculture, Integrated Pest Management, and Vegetable Gardening Practices.
College of the Redwoods
The College of the Redwoods offers an Associates Degree and Certificate programs in Agriculture with a focus on small-scale, organic farming.
The PSC has an on-farm apprentice program in which apprentices will not only build their farming skills, but will also learn other aspects in permaculture design such as water harvesting, greywater, natural building and more.
The OAEC operates a number of courses on sustainable agriculture, including permaculture, water management, and range management.
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa Junior College offers an Associates Degree in Sustainable Agriculture, a Sustainable Agriculture Certificate of Achievement, and a Sustainable Agriculture Production Skills Certificate. Courses include topics such as organic fruit and crop production, organic gardening, viticulture, integrated pest management, composting, specialty crops and sustainable production.
The California Farm Academy is a seven-month training program and farm business incubator at the Center for Land-Based Learning that teaches and mentors beginning farmers in agricultural production, business planning and marketing of specialty crops, poultry and livestock.
The Agriculture Sustainability Institute offers a Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major at UC Davis. Students work on The Student Farm to gain production and marketing experience.
Soil Born Farms has various events and classes in addition to a full-year farm apprenticeship program for those interested in farming.
City Slicker Farms offers an Urban Farming Education Program that includes workshops and internships in urban farming.
Merritt College offers a Certificate of Achievement in Agroecology, a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and a comprehensive Mushroom Cultivation course. Courses include Principles and Practices of Organic Farming & Gardening, Integrated Pest Management, Irrigation of Landscapes, Urban Edible Gardens. The campus hosts a large Permaculture Garden and Food Forest located on 7 Acres. Fee-based classes include beekeeping and fruit tree pruning.
Urban Adamah is an urban farm that offers several workshops in urban agriculture such as beekeeping, worm composting, aquaponics, and more, as well as 3-month residential training program.
San Francisco, CA
Garden for the Environment maintains a nationally acclaimed one-acre urban demonstration garden and offers environmental education programs about organic gardening, urban compost systems and sustainable food systems.
The College of Marin offers an A.S. degree in Environmental Landscaping: Landscaping, Organic Farming and Gardening. Three 18-unit Certificates of Achievement in Organic Farming and Gardening also are available in the Environmental Landscaping course of study. Courses include Principles and Practices of Organic Farming & Gardening, Integrated Pest Management, Irrigation of Landscapes, Farms and Gardens. The certified organic 5.8 acre Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden is located at the Novato campus and is managed through a partnership with Conservation Corps North Bay and University of California Cooperative Extension.
The Regenerative Design Institute offers a number of educational programs on permaculture and aspects of ecological sustainability.
Los Altos Hills, CA
Hidden Villa is a non-profit that includes an organic farm and animal husbandry program to teach about the environment and social justice. They offer internships in animal husbandry and organic farming.
ALBA is a training program that provides educational and business opportunities for farm workers and aspiring farmers to grow and sell crops around the Central Coast.
Santa Cruz, CA
The 6-month apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture provides training in organic gardening and small-scale farming. This program is run in conjunction with UCSC Extension.
Pie Ranch is an educational farm that connects urban areas to food and land. It has an Emerging Farmers Program that offers 1-year long paid apprenticeships and short-term internships on a working farm.
Cabrillo College offers an A.S and Certificate of Achievement in Horticulture and Crop Production. Also offered are Skills Certificates in Crop Production, Greenhouse and Nursery Management, and Courses and/or lectures series in organic agriculture, sustainable gardening, hydroponic food production, integrated pest management, soil conservation, and more. Students work on the campus organic farm.
San Luis Obispo, CA
Cal Poly at SLO offers a BA in Horticulture and Crop Science and a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. The 11-acre, certified organic Cal Poly Organic Farm provides students with a place to gain hands-on learning experience in organic and sustainable farming and garden practices.
Modesto Junior College
Modesto Junior College offers an Associates Degree in Environmental Horticulture Science. Courses include topics such as integrated pest management, environmental horticulture, suburban agriculture, sustainable production systems, and viticulture.
California State University - Fresno
CSU Fresno offers undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs on agriculture business and education. Several classes emphasize agricultural sustainability and the University Farm Laboratory serves as a research farm for students.
Reedley College offers an Associates Degree as well as a Professional Certificate in Environmental Horticulture, featuring courses in environmental agriculture, organic gardening, and integrated pest management.
Sarvodaya Farms offers a 3-month flexible and accessible Farmer Training Program focused on urban farming and is the longest-running Farmer Training Program in Los Angeles, with graduates working on and operating urban farms across Southern California. Training occurs in person at the 3/4 acre urban farm with supplemental lessons provided online. Topics covered include urban farm development, soil regeneration, water & irrigation, vegetable farming, orchard management, CA native plants, nursery propagation & management, and more. Also offered is a 1-year long Beekeeper Training Program.
Mt. San Antonio College
Mt. San Antonio College offers courses in sustainable food production; organic gardening; integrated pest management; and environmental vegetable gardening with emphasis on organic gardening, hydroponic techniques, and other environmental methods. There are also courses in care and management of alternative livestock.
The Center offers a Masters in Regenerative Studies (MSRS
) integrating a variety of disciplines including agriculture, physical science, environmental design, engineering, and business. It also offers a minor in Regenerative Studies.
Cal Poly Pomona offers several four-year agricultural degrees, including animal science, plant science, and agribusiness management. The plant science department offers a minor in urban and community agriculture.
The U-ACRE Program, which is part of the campus Center for Sustainability, engages students in community research to study and practice urban agriculture. Students participate in a variety of projects, including engaging foster youth in growing fresh produce for a local restaurant.
Culver City, CA
Antioch University offers a Master Degree in Urban Sustainability that focuses on Urban Agriculture. For individuals who are not interested in attaining a graduate degree, there is a Certificate in Urban Sustainability offered through a shorter program.
Archi’s Acres and Cal Poly Pomona (in partnership) offer a six-week intensive training program on organic, hydroponics, and sustainable agriculture to veterans or active duty personnel.
San Diego, CA
This program offers a certificate program for Urban Farming Professionals as well as an Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Urban Agriculture. The program includes a one-acre working farm that serves as an outdoor classroom.
Six-acre organic farm offers an introduction to techniques and strategies for small farming or agricultural advocacy. Students take an active part in life on a working farm.