Training Program Description

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An intensive and extended learning experience in simplicity, cooperation, and sustainable food production. Each year, we accept up to 4 participants.

Location: Yellow Springs, OH. Duration: April to October. Time: Full-Time.
Structure: formal, hands-on, and social. # of Participants: 4
Room: simple on-site housing. Board: fresh farm food and staples. Price: free.

Learning Objectives

Our program seeks to balance the practical and the theoretical by combining hands-on training with more formal study. Participants learn:

  • The different approaches and philosophies to farming
  • The science behind organic farming
  • The history of food production
  • How to plant, care for, harvest, and process vegetables
  • How to manage a farm business
  • How to live and work with others in effective and enjoyable cooperation
  • How to feel confident and fulfilled while living simply and connected to nature


The program begins in mid-April and ends in mid-October, though applicants may request alternate start and end dates if they have other commitments. The program is full-time and has 3 educational components:

Simple Living. Participants live on site for the duration of the program. Accommodations are intentionally simple: a private one-room cabin and a lounge, kitchen, and bathroom shared with the other participants. Participants have lunch with staff on weekdays and receive a weekly supply of fresh farm food and staples for other meals. In their off-time, participants may choose to hang out around the farm or head into town, which is 3 1/2 miles away. Once per week, participants and staff gather to reflect on their experiences.

Formal Study. Over the course of the program, participants work through an anthology of selected readings and videos, broken down into a curriculum with themes and modules. 1 or 2 days per week, depending on the weather and season, participants meet for a discussion, activity, guest lecture, or field trip related to the subjects they are currently studying.

Hands-On Work. 3 or 4 days per week, depending on the weather and season, participants work with the staff in the CSA gardens, receiving hands-on training, and engaging in discussions during work and breaks.

Participants may also choose to take on an optional project like growing a specialty crop, constructing equipment, or research. Participants may take time away for vacation; 2 weeks if they are completing the entire program, 1 week if their stay is partial.


The application process consists of a basic information intake form and an interview. The intake form is available here.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and available for at least 3 months of the program. Applicants should be prepared for the physical realities of simple living and sustainable agriculture: working in the gardens, in heat and cold, dealing with occasional insects and poison ivy, riding into town on the bike path, living in simple accommodations, etc.


Selection is based on an applicant’s availability, interest, reliability, and ability to get along with others. Preference is given to applicants who apply early and are able to start the program in April. Preference is given to applicants who can demonstrate, through their activities and goals, a serious interest in simple living, cooperative culture, and sustainable agriculture.

Heartbeat Learning Gardens does not discriminate with respect to age, sex, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status, or political affiliation.


The training program is free of charge, covered by donations from the organization’s supporters. Participants may request a monthly scholarship for living expenses beyond room and board, which are provided by Heartbeat.