Land Steward Training Program

Become a skilled steward of the land. Learn to transform degraded landscapes into healthy, biodiverse, productive habitats through ecological learning and hands-on, land stewardship practices. 

A holistic hybrid of the Horn Farm Center’s Regenerative Farmer and Woodland Steward Training Programs, this new program is an immersive learning experience focused on deep ecological literacy and skill-building that will empower students to restore damaged ecosystems, produce food, and reintegrate into the landscape in a way that supports a healthy human lifestyle. The program offers work-force training and development for active and aspiring land stewards in the fields of regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, land restoration work, and ecological landscaping. 

Built on a 4-day core curriculum of foundational ecological education, the Land Steward Training program offers 16 weeks of intensive training focused on skill-building for practical application in the burgeoning fields of regenerative agriculture and restorative earth work. Students are invited to build skills in their area of focus with 3 practicum tracks: Regenerative Farmer, Woodlands Steward, or Whole Landscapes, which includes both the Regenerative Farmer and Woodlands Steward practicums. 

Whether enrolling in the Regenerative Farmer, Woodlands Steward, or both, this part-time program is equally suited for the professional and the layperson, for aspiring and established farmers, for landowners and land stewards, activists, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. No previous experience required. 

The Land Steward Training Program runs for 16-weeks, March 9 through June 22, 2021. The 4-week core classroom curriculum is held every Tuesday from March 9-March 30, 2021, which will be followed by 12 weeks of hands-on training in the student’s selected practicum focus.  

Applications being accepted now.

Program Objective: To provide foundational knowledge and practical skills for those interested in learning how to observe, interact with and restore whole ecosystems in ways that can meet human needs, improve biodiversity, restore health, and regenerate degraded landscapes. 

Beyond the core ecological learning of the course, the program practicums will provide hands-on learning and skill-building in the student’s chosen area of focus. Each practicum track is designed to equip students with job-ready skills that can be applied in the fields of regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, land restoration work, and ecological landscaping. 

Students enrolled in the Regenerative Farmer Practicum will focus on a variety of food production methodologies including both annual and perennial plant cultivation. Students enrolled in the Woodlands Steward Practicum will focus on restoration and food cultivation practices within the wild, wooded, and riparian areas on the farm. Students enrolled in the Whole Landscapes Practicum will focus on holistic land management and regenerative food cultivation by participating in both aforementioned practicums. 

This program features:

  • Convenient location – Centrally located between Lancaster and York, one mile off of Route 30
  • Part-time learning to allow time for employment or other commitments
  • Unique, ecologically sound curriculum
  • Simple, small scale, intensive, hand-tool based techniques
  • Classroom time and homework to reinforce the ecological principles of the hands-on work
  • Personal toolkit (see below)

Core Classroom Curriculum – 28 hours (4 weeks, 7 hours per week)

All program participants will engage in 7 hours of the core classroom learning per week from March 9 until March 30, 2021. Once completed, each student will begin hands-on training in their selected area of focus. 

Core Topics covered include:

  • Basic ecology including understanding natural cycles and ecological systems
  • Historical land uses and misuses
  • Land regeneration design and implementation
  • Disturbance-based land management
  • Mapping
  • Field and forest ergonomics for human movement

Regenerative Farmer Practicum  – 48 hours (12 weeks, 4 hours per week)

Program participants will engage in 4 hours of regenerative farming training (and periodic classroom instruction) per week from April 5 until June 21, 2021. The Regenerative Farmer Practicum provides hands-on learning in annual and perennial food production in a market garden style production system. 

Topic Covered:

  • Basic farm and field ecology
  • Food production for home and community scale consumption
  • Designing polyculture systems that are low maintenance 
  • Basic food cultivation practices
  • Soil building, compost, and cover-cropping
  • Seed saving, genetics and bioregional adaptations 
  • Record keeping, data collection
  • Foraging and wild food crafting 
  • Tree and perennial plant care and propagation 
  • Mycology, low tech mushroom production and passive garden bed inoculation
  • Greenhouse production and management 
  • Water management and Irrigation systems 
  • Holistic farm training focused on polyculture systems that blend annual and perennial food production
  • Proper tools use for efficiency, movements for longevity & health and the overall importance of self care

Woodland Steward Practicum  – 84 hours (12 weeks, 7 hours per week)

Participants will explore ways to restore ecosystem health by applying the principles and techniques of disturbance-based forest management. We will practice hands-on techniques for working to restore the land. Program participants will engage in 7 hours of woodland stewardship training (and periodic classroom instruction) per week from April 6-June 22, 2021. Topics covered include:

  • Basic woodland ecology
  • Agroforestry system design, installation, and maintenance
  • Coppicing
  • Riparian buffer design, installation, and maintenance
  • Cultivating woodland plants
  • Invasive species management
  • Designing habitat for keystone species
  • Water movement
  • Use of hand tools
  • Tree & plant identification
  • Animal tracking
  • Insect identification
  • Data collection
  • Biomimicry

Whole Landscape Practicum  – 132 hours (12 weeks, 11 hours per week)

Using a whole systems approach, students will learn in the Horn Farm’s cultivated, wooded, and wild spaces. By participating in both the Woodland and Regenerative Farming practicums, students will explore a combination of food cultivation and land stewardship practices as a result of a deep foundational understanding of ecological systems.

This is an opportunity to learn to integrate semi-wild spaces with both annual and perennial agricultural production, focusing on the Horn Farm Center’s work to create a regenerative farmscape. Topics include all of the program details described above.

Classroom Training:

Time will be spent in the classroom to introduce foundational concepts and reinforce training. Classroom time will be emphasized when inclement weather prevents outdoor work. Part of this classroom time will involve a research component – participants will take on a relevant research topic to study, learn, and present to the rest of the group. Due to COVID-19, classroom training may be conducted virtually dependent on the circumstances. 

Toolkit:

Participants will receive their own set of tools to use. The course is designed so that participants will gain comfort and proficiency with the use of these tools. This toolkit includes a knife, plant ID magnifying lens and journal. Participants will be responsible for their own tools and will take their kit with them at the completion of the program

Expected Outcome:

Participants will leave the program with practical skills in holistic land restoration and maintenance, an understanding of ecological succession, and the knowledge and skills to implement regenerative land management practices on other properties.

Program Details:

Core Land Steward Classroom Curriculum:

  • Tuesdays, March 9-March 30

Practicum Options:

Regenerative Farmer Practicum

  • Mondays, April 5-June 21, 2021, 8am-12pm
  • Cost: $550/person

Woodland Steward Practicum

  • Tuesdays, April 6-June 22, 2021, 8am-3:30pm 
  • Cost: $800/person

Whole Landscape Practicum

  • Mondays, April 5-June 21, 2021, 8am-12pm
  • Tuesdays, April 6-June 22, 2021, 8am-3:30pm
  • Cost: $1300 ($50 discount)

Payment plans available if needed.

Click here to apply. Application Deadline: January 31, 2021

For more information please contact farmmanager@hornfarmcenter.org, (717) 757-6441

About the Instructors:

Wilson Alvarez is a certified permaculture designer, inventor, gardener, skilled tracker, bowyer, nature-awareness instructor, and writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Since 2004, he has taught classes and workshops on bio-intensive agriculture, regenerative technology, foraging, hunting, trapping, tracking, and wilderness survival. Wilson has studied at the Wilderness Awareness School via the Kamana program, and he received his Permaculture Design Certificate through Susquehanna Permaculture.Wilson Alvarez

Born in York County, Andrew Horn earned his Business Management degree from Shippensburg University. After graduation, Andrew traveled with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) to New Zealand, where he lived and learned on organic farms. Captivated by his experience, Andrew wanted to continue his journey in small-scale agriculture and sought to find a place where he could apply, develop and learn new skills. He found the Horn Farm Center through an Introduction to Permaculture class. Since successful completion of the Farming Internship, Andrew has pursued his exploration of a career in farming as the Farm Manager at the Horn Farm Center. He runs the Community Supported Agriculture Program and guides participants through hands-on instruction in the Land Steward Training Program.


Health and Safety

Due to COVID-19 the Horn Farm Center is offering on-site educational programming with some modifications in order to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff. Indoor classroom offerings may be restricted to remote learning. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available on-site. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change.
Participant expectations are as follows:

  • Participants are required to bring a mask and wear it when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. We have a limited supply on hand if you forget yours.
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained except in case of family members.
  • Do not attend if sick or recovering.