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Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Program

The 2014 Farm and Garden Apprenticeship application process is now closed. You are welcome to begin applying for the 2015 growing season, which begins in April 2015. Please read about the Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Application Process, as well as the background information on this page, and send in complete applications as soon as they're ready. If you have any questions, please contact the coordinator at farmapprentice@sfzc.org.

History of Green Gulch Farm

In 1972 Green Gulch Farm became part of the San Francisco Zen Center, a non-profit religious organization dedicated to the practice and study of Zen Buddhism in the Soto Zen lineage as conveyed by its founding teacher, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Situated on the coast of Marin, on an inholding of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Green Gulch includes seven acres of certified organic mixed vegetable fields, fruit trees, and flower gardens, all of which are open to visitors year-round. Tended by Zen students for 40 years, the deep, fertile clay loam soil, combined with mild summers and coastal fog, create the ideal conditions for many cool weather crops and ornamentals.

Each spring since the Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Program’s founding, in 1994, new farm and garden apprentices join our community and experience a unique opportunity to study themselves and the natural world through meditation practice and working directly with the land in the Green Gulch watershed. Other members of Green Gulch’s residential community (totaling around 70 people) have the opportunity to practice while working in the kitchen, the guest program, or maintaining the physical plant.

Formal Zen meditation and training is the foundation of community life at Green Gulch and is an integral part of the Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Programs. All residents, including farm and garden apprentices, follow a daily meditation schedule, meet regularly with teachers, attend temple events – including weekly classes on Buddhism, Dharma lectures, and special ceremonies – and participate in three full-day meditation retreats over the course of the six-month growing season.

The Farm
  • Certified Organic by CCOF
  • 6 acres of mixed cool weather annual row crops, including:
    • Lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, chard, beets, spinach, chicories, arugula, mizuna, garlic, leeks, fennel, radishes, zucchini, winter squash, potatoes, turnips, green beans, rhubarb, bunching onions, pea shoots, nettles, purslane, and herbs
  • Maintained by a seasonal crew of 3-5 staff and 6-8 apprentices
  • Both tractor and hand cultivation techniques are used
  • On-site greenhouse production of vegetable transplants
  • Combination of overhead and drip irrigation is used
  • Soil fertility management includes winter and summer cover crops and on-site compost production
  • Marketing outlets include Zen Center’s kitchens (both at Green Gulch and City Center), farmers’ markets, restaurants (including Greens Restaurant), a grocery store, and a small, very local CSA.
Farm apprentices receive training in a wide range of practices, including the sowing, planting, cultivating, irrigating, harvesting, and marketing of a wide variety of cool weather vegetable crops. They also learn, through practicums and hands-on experience, about organic soil, pest and disease management through composting and cover crops, water/irrigation management, and promotion of biological diversity.

The Garden
  • Certified organic by CCOF
  • 1¾ acres annual and perennial flowers, herbs, and fruit trees, including:
    • Two smaller enclosed formal gardens
    • Production beds of annual and perennial flowers and herbs
    • A demonstration permaculture area
    • A retail nursery
    • An heirloom orchard with apples, pears, plums, and berries
  • Maintained by a seasonal crew of 2-3 staff and 2-3 apprentices
  • Exclusively hand-worked
  • On-site glass house used for propagation of annual and perennial plants
  • Combination of overhead and drip irrigation is used
  • Soil fertility management includes winter and summer cover crops and on-site compost production
  • Flower arrangements produced weekly for Green Gulch’s many temple altars
  • Flower arrangements produced weekly for farmers’ market sales
  • Marketing outlets for the garden’s fruits and herbs include Zen Center’s kitchens (both at Green Gulch and City Center), farmers’ markets, restaurants (including Greens Restaurant), and a small, very local CSA
Garden apprentices receive training in a wide range of practices, including raised bed preparation, sowing, transplanting, harvesting of flowers, herbs and fruit, composting, irrigation, flower arranging, and pruning. They also learn, through practicums and hands-on experience, about organic soil fertility management, sexual and asexual plant propagation, fruit tree pruning and aesthetic pruning.

See Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Application Process for an Application.

Other information:
Daily Schedule [Word] [PDF]
Weekly Routine on the Farm [Word] [PDF]
Weekly Routine in the Garden [Word] [PDF]
Class and Fieldtrip Schedule-2012 version [Word] [PDF]

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Read profiles of six former farm apprentices.