Now Accepting Applications for 2015 Sustainability Education Program

Better Farm’s Sustainability Education Program was created to offer individuals an immersive, introductory crash-course in sustainability initiatives. Those enrolled in the program receive a hands-on education culminating in a sustainability certificate from Better Farm.

The program is comprised of different units, including:

  • organic small-scale farming and gardening
  • greenhouses and four-season farming
  • compost
  • alternative building and energy
  • rainwater collection and greywater filtration
  • aquaponics, hydroponics
  • chicken care
  • community outreach
  • homesteading (organic cooking, canning/preserving, splitting wood)
  • outdoor survival

Instead of a traditional working farm with acres upon acres of one or two different crops, Better Farm has several gardens demonstrating different styles of gardening and farming. These gardens demonstrate the need for diversity of crops instead of monocultures. Better Farm equips students with a variety of solutions to real-world agricultural issues, including small spaces, temperamental soils, pests, and climate change. The aquaponics, hydroponics, layered gardens, fruit orchard, and forests on the property are extremely varied so students coming from all over the world will learn practical tools that can be applied back home.

The Sustainability Education Program runs in one- to three-month intervals. Those attending receive daily assignments and chores all related to sustainability initiatives and organic farming, as well as the opportunity to design and implement projects on their own. Upon completion of all units and responsibilities, participants will receive a certificate from Better Farm. College students may additionally receive course credit for completion of Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program.

Individuals are immersed from day one in the local culture while working alongside other residents at Better Farm and in the Redwood community. Those in Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program are expected to work seriously—and to conduct themselves in a manner that aids fellow residents in their endeavors. Also staying at Better Farm are staff members and artists visiting through the 

betterArts residency program

. Individuals should be prepared to take on solo work as well as group efforts; ranging from mundane tasks to unusual, exciting projects.

Many sustainability specialists visit Better Farm throughout the year to offer mentoring and guidance. Additionally, individuals have the option of taking any workshops and participating in any excursions or field trips scheduled during their time at Better Farm.

Students live on-site and communally on the Better Farm campus in shared rooms. A small stipend required of each student ($500/month) covers educational fees, supplies, lodging, field trips, wireless Internet, use of the laundry machine, all linens and towels, on-site parking, and use of the communal kitchen (stocked weekly with food).

Interns at the conclusion of Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program will be able to:

  • Think critically about and be able to debate issues of sustainability on a micro and macro level; and have a firm grasp of what sustainability means
  • Identify the appropriate vegetables, fruits, and herbs to plant in a specific climate and be able to plant them with high success
  • Troubleshoot and solve agricultural challenges related to irrigation, pests, and soil quality
  • Identify immature edible plants wild and domestic
  • Understand compost systems and how they can benefit gardens while reducing the need for fertilizers
  • Employ basic construction and carpentry skills
  • Survive overnight in a wild habitat 
  • Hatch, rear, and care for chickens
  • Install a rainwater catchment system, basic water filtration system, and build a standard compost toilet
  • Install and run a basic hydroponics and aquaponics indoor growing system for use residentially or commercially
  • Preserve, dry, and can produce from the garden

Click here to download the application.

All applications must be submitted to 

Applicants will be notified of their status within one month of submission.


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.