Our newest project, the Bay Area Farmer Training Program, provides the education, training and tools for a new generation of farmers in California’s Bay Area to create socially-just, ecologically sustainable and economically viable urban and peri-urban farm businesses. Exceedingly high recidivism rates, increasing immigrant populations, a scarcity of living-wages for vulnerable citizens, and the rapidly aging farmer population all combine to create an urgent need to champion collaborative strategies in community development and seed opportunities to access training, land, and jobs in urban areas. Between MESA’s experience connecting educators, mentors and farmers around the world, and Planting Justice’s years of innovative and successful re-entry programs, we bring a wealth of experience to the Bay Area Farmer Training Program! We are proud to be the first Beginning Farmers Training Program that’s specifically working to address the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals and vulnerable new immigrants.

How to Get Involved

To apply, please fill out our online application. This course is only available to people currently living in or close to San Francisco’s Bay Area. If you’d like to receive updates about the program, sign up for our mailing list. For more information or any questions on the program, please send an e-mail to [email protected].



The 3 months course has a sliding scale cost between $350 and $800. People coming from vulnerable backgrounds such as immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, refugees, and underserved beginning farmers can apply to receive scholarships, as well as a $500 stipend for transportation and food while taking the course. Here you can see the content of the course and tentative dates and places. Help spread the word by sharing the program flyer with people that you think might be interested in participating.

More about the Bay Area Farmer Training Program

This program supports immigrants, refugees, formerly incarcerated, and under-resourced beginning farmers in having strong voices to lead their communities towards thriving, equitable and resilient food systems. Co-Lead Farm Educators Ana Galvis Martinez and Paul Rogé offer a comprehensive program featuring experiential learning, site visits, participatory presentations, anti-oppression trainings, online curriculum, and ongoing mentorship support for those who aspire to farm as a career path.

The Bay Area Farmer Training Program has a strong hands-on educational component. We offer three class series in 2017: February — May, June — August, and September–December. Our classes take place twice a week: Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:30pm at Laney College, and Saturdays from 10am-4pm at various locations in the region.

The course offers learning opportunities with experienced farmers through site visits and guest lectures. Our curriculum includes visits to Planting Justice’s new 2-acre aquaponics farm and organic tree nursery in East Oakland, as well as various local and successful ecological farms in MESA’s network. Transportation will be provided, as will laptop chromebooks for completion of the online curriculum.

This program offers new farmers the opportunity to learn agroecological farm and business management. Diverse topics include aquaponics, nursery production, sustainable livestock care, business planning, marketing, product distribution, access to land and capital, and the socio-political forces that shape the ways that each of us relates with food, and more. The Bay Area Farmer Training Program includes long-term support for new farmers after the three-month training period.

Some successful graduates will be given the opportunity to be mentored by pioneering local farmers through 3-6 month paid apprenticeships on farms in the MESA network, receive living-wage employment with Planting Justice with their landscape design team or at their Urban Food Forest, and/or provided ongoing legal, technical and financial support to access land and launch farm businesses!

How to support the Bay Area Farmer Training Program

Please consider making a donation to MESA. Your contribution will help make this program a success. The program also has been funded by OUR COMMUNITY. Without the contributions from long-term MESA supporters, we could have never dreamed up and designed this program. THANK YOU!



In addition, MESA and Planting Justice’s Bay Area Farmer Training Program has received financial support from a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant funded by the Farm Bill. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture administers $20 million in annual BFRDP funding to numerous organizations and educational institutions to help train the next generation of agricultural producers.