Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Program, April 11 – October 12, 2018

Please read the program information on this page as well as the application information on the Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Application Process page, where a link to the application is available. Please send in your completed application as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship coordinator at farmapprentice@sfzc.org.

History of Green Gulch Farm

Green Dragon Temple, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, was established in 1972 by the San Francisco Zen Center, a nonprofit 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. It is a residential Zen training temple dedicated to the practices of farming, hosting guests, and offering the Dharma to the wider world.

Situated on the coast of Marin, on an inholding of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Green Gulch Farm 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 (approximately 70 people on average) enjoy the practice opportunities presented by working in the kitchen, the guest program, or maintaining the physical plant, among other practice locations.

Formal Zen meditation and training is the foundation of community life at Green Gulch and is an integral part of the apprenticeship program. Farm and Garden Apprentices are actively engaged in Zen Buddhism by following the daily temple schedule, which includes sitting meditation, walking meditation, services, and temple cleaning (soji). All residents, including apprentices, follow the daily schedule, meet regularly with teachers, and attend temple events, including classes on Buddhism, Dharma lectures, special ceremonies, and monthly one-day meditation retreats (by either sitting in the zendo or working to support the sitting).

The Farm

  • Certified Organic by CCOF
  • 6 acres of mixed cool-weather annual row crops, including but not limited to:
    • 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
  • Tractor- and hand-cultivation techniques used
  • On-site greenhouse production of vegetable transplants
  • Combination of overhead and drip irrigation 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: sowing, planting, cultivating, irrigating, harvesting, and marketing a wide variety of cool weather vegetable crops. Through practicums and hands-on experience, they also learn about: organic soil, pest and disease management (as it related to composting and the use of 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 comprised of 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 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
  • Bouquets produced seasonally 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 (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.

Additional information:
Daily Schedule [Word] [PDF]
Weekly Routine on the Farm [Word] [PDF]
Weekly Routine in the Garden [Word] [PDF]
Class and Fieldtrip Schedule (2012 sample) [Word] [PDF]

In Their Own WordsRead profiles of six former farm apprentices.

Application Process

See Farm and Garden Apprenticeship Application Process for an Application.