Agricultural Apprenticeship Progam to Nurture Young Farmers, Farms and NWI’s Food System

The Center of Workforce Innovations, in an exciting new partnership with Northwest Indiana Food Council, is proud to announce the launch of a READI and U.S. Department of Labor approved farm worker apprenticeship program. This innovative program, the first of its kind in the region, aims to foster agricultural skills and knowledge while supporting the growth of local farms and food systems.

The one-year apprenticeship program is designed to provide hands-on training and educational opportunities to prepare the next generation of organic vegetable farm workers. Apprentices will report for work at one of five participating local farms, gaining experience in sustainable and innovative farming practices. Notably, participating farms are contributors to NWIFC’s Food Bank of Northwest Indiana operations, creating a synergistic relationship between the industry, the apprenticeship program, food security efforts, and the community.

“We are beyond proud to be able to offer this hands-on, intensive organic vegetable farming apprenticeship program to help fill in the gaps for those with interests or some background in agriculture,” said Lisa Daugherty, CEO and president of CWI. “It is equally important that we support our farmers by helping them recruit and cultivate talent while connecting aspiring farmers with the knowledge and experience they need to ultimately contribute to the health of the region’s food ecosystem.”

As an approved project of Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative through the Northwest Indiana Forum, CWI and NWIFC have strengthened their partnership and established a comprehensive support network connecting farmers with aspiring farmers. Collectively, the organizations are developing a curriculum and apprenticeship experience that includes proprietary farm operations training; participation in small farm conferences through the Purdue Extension; as well as attendance at small farm equipment demos and the Pinney Purdue Vegetable Field Day.

“I am more of the opinion that if we have many small farms feeding their towns and their churches, their civic organizations, their friend circles and neighbors, the more food secure we will all be.”

Dan Perkins

Co-Owner Perkins' Good Earth Farm


“We hope our process of building the apprenticeship with CWI will help pave the way for more farmer apprenticeships throughout Indiana and beyond,” said Rebecca Koetz, Extension Educator and Urban Agriculture / Home Horticulture Educator at Purdue University. “This program will help farmers afford to train new farmers and build a skilled farmer workforce.”

One of the five participating local farms is Perkins’ Good Earth Farm located in DeMotte, Ind. Co-owner, Dan Perkins, is an advisor farmer for NWI Food Council. As a “city kid,” he came into farming through an apprenticeship.

“This is how I became a farmer and I know that learning from someone actually doing it is a really good way to do it,” Perkins said. “An apprenticeship program allows someone to get training in a low risk, still getting paid situation without having to bear all the risks of owning land and equipment.”

Perkins is optimistic about the program. As an advocate for local small farms and food security in the Region, he believes the outcomes could be deeply and personally satisfying.

According to Perkins, “If we are going to be food secure in Northwest Indiana, we need more farmers. If we are going to eat more food locally, we need more people raising it. And not just one or two big vegetable farms.”

“I am more of the opinion that if we have many small farms feeding their towns and their churches, their civic organizations, their friend circles and neighbors, the more food secure we will all be,” Perkins added.

Recruitment for aspiring farmers for the apprenticeship program is underway. Interested individuals can go to or call (219) xxx-xxxx for more information. For additional information about the NWI Organic Vegetable Farm Worker Apprenticeship, visit

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