Apprenticeship Site - Earth Matter NY

General Information

Name of apprenticeship site:

Earth Matter Compost Learning Center on Governors Island

Location of apprenticeship site:

Governors Island

Name and title of supervisor:

Marisa DeDominicis, Director

Supervisor Contact Info (Email and Phone):   cell 917 447 7256

Number of Apprenticeship Positions available at your site:


Title of apprenticeship position(s):

Governors Island Compost Learning Center demonstration farm, animal husbandry and composting apprentice

Is your site accessible via NYC public transportation (i.e. train or bus)? If yes, please provide public transportation directions to your site. If no, what is the best way to reach your site? Please provide directions:

 By Subway 

1 to South Ferry station 4, 5 to Bowling Green station R to Whitehall St. station

By Bus

M1 (weekdays only), M6, M9, and M15, 

Then take the ferry to GI and walk/ bike / free tram to Compost Learning Center @ Picnic Point  

Why do you want to work with a Farm School NYC apprentice?

I want to  grow, teach and learn to teach better, and be taught from my apprentices, how to better grow crops and flowers, with applications of compost and soil amendments,  through these experiences, share with people who are like minded and interested, the  work that I love so dearly, my work at the Compost Learning Center, involving as many as possible aspects of sustainability training and being and grow awareness of what we can do to affect change. I want to help apprentices get more training and information so they can be better equipped to work in this farming field.

Apprentice Work Schedule

Farm School NYC requires that the apprenticeship be a minimum of 140 hours.

# of Hours per week: as little as 8 hours a week  and as much as 35 hour/week

# of Hours total (140 hours minimum): 140 minimum

Does your apprenticeship have a specific start and end date? If yes, please provide the start and end dates:


Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule with specific days and times?


Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule that is flexible and/or you are willing to wait and create a schedule that works for the apprentice? (A set schedule must be agreed upon in writing prior to the start of the apprenticeship.)



Financial Details

Will you offer the apprentice payment or a stipend? If yes, please describe:

We are applying to Citizen's committee to supply stipends for apprentices; we do not know what funding we will receive so the amount of the stipend is not yet known.  We are also applying for apprentice stipends from the Dept of Sanitation 


Apprenticeship Description

Please list all of the following categories that apply to this apprenticeship:

Crop Production, Animal Husbandry, Teaching, Advocacy, Enterprise, Community Food Arts

Please describe the apprenticeship responsibilities and tasks. Please specify if the apprentice will have a specific project or whether they will be involved with general operations.:

The apprentice (s) will have specific tasks they will be responsible for doing. We will have a demo farm and they will assist with all aspects of this demo farm including bed preparation, planting, watering (drip?) weeding, harvesting and what to do with the harvest – cooking demo etc. The apprentices will be responsible for shifts of animal care. We have chickens, goats, bees and will have rabbits (we think) during this apprenticeship period Apprentices will also be training in making compost; all aspects of collection, processing and application on crops *. We hope to also have our compost tea operation in motion for them to be trained.

What will the apprentice learn through this apprenticeship? 

Apprentices will learn by hands on working : 

how to grow food, 

how to grow flowers, 

how to design a small demonstration farm (up to but most likely a lot less that 3 acres).

How to prepare a small demonstration farm for planting with compost 

How to tend to a hot sunny location that has a watering source,

How to tend to animals – chickens goats, bees and rabbits; we have a unique care system that involves feeding them a diet of spent beer grain and food scraps and compost their poop

How to market eggs and possibly veggies, herbs and flowers to GI vendors and visitors 

How to make compost and keep records – compost program managed by our super compost manager Charlie

Learn about All aspects of Earth Matter’s  compost operations on GI

Educational programming – we conduct trainings for all groups and ages of people; Apprentices will co lead these  trainings in agricultural related trainings for all types of trainees - children and adults

Educational programming around compost and growing activities at events; on Governors Island apprentices will have the opportunity to interact with public at events to generate interest and promote people  (New Yorkers ) planting themselves and tending their plants,  and composting activities if desired by apprentice.

Work  with staff and volunteers and other apprentices on a number of diverse building projects 

Website development and social media outlets via writing for publicizing Earth Matter work.

- other administrative skills -  such as record keeping and data collection 



Supervisor & Site Details

How does your farm/project reflect the following Farm School NYC vision: “Farm School NYC aims to increase the self-reliance of communities and inspire positive local action around issues of food access and social, economic and racial justice”?

Everything Earth Matter  does is geared to this vision of food access and social, economic and racial justice. We continue to delve deeper every season with how we are reaching for this goal. Our workshops and trainings are free. We gear them to public visitors, and public schools, community gardens and community volunteer groups, so they can take what they learn from Earth Matter back to their communities. We work with all partners on Governors Island; we feel blessed that our vendor partners are racially mixed and come from various socio economic places so that the food and flowers that we will grow with the apprentices will be sold/bartered at a reasonable threshold for them. We have a member based organization that drives what we take on as far as direction and capacity. For example,  we will only get rabbits if the membership , which is for the most runs like a cooperative with the exception of 2 part time staff and 1 full time position (me). This funding for the positions and the supplies to run the Compost Learning Center come from the Dept of Sanitation's NYC Compost Project  via LORP (Local Organic Recovery Program). We are purposely located on Governors Island because it is free to come and therefore allows all people to experience our work and become involved.

What experience and knowledge will you (the Supervisor) share with the apprentice?

Every thing that I have learned in my 50 years on the planet starting from a young girl stirring 150 jars of tomato sauce in a cauldron in the back yard for the year's supply of dinner sauce, to being an environmental education teacher with a focus on design and plants in school yard and community gardens, to being a gardener myself for 29 years.

In addition to my supervision, my co director and compost manager, Charlie Bayrer, part time educator Molly Culver, and several of Earth Matter's experienced core members, will supervise various aspects of apprentices’ work. Once apprentices have been interviewed and selected and the details of the scope of their work is decided, key people will be assigned supervise the apprentice in the specific areas of focus.

What is exciting about your apprenticeship site?

It is beautiful place, spacious, not defined totally so that the apprentice can have say as to what happens in the space to a degree. We love our focus on animals and we love that visitors come  to be a part of us on Sat and Sundays. We love that we have the opportunity to influence the public with our demo farm. We love that we are developing great relationships with regular visitors, our neighboring school, interns , other adult apprentices and our generous  gift of teens and Americorps training program with the  Green Guerrilla Youth Tiller Program. We think it is exciting to work with our members and volunteers who are a part of our organization because they see the need for the work we endeavor to accomplish.

Is the work of your site rooted in or connected to New York City? Please explain:

We work closely with  NYHS  (we have interns that work at the Compost Learning Center), which is a public school. We host school groups that are title #1 schools when possible; we focus all of our work on training that is free and accessible to New Yorkers. 

Does your site work with low-income communities?If yes, please explain the nature of your work with low-income communities:

As mentioned above, we work with NYC title #1 schools, . We hope to be able to connect with programs such as the NYHA developments for summer camp workshops and school groups. We may not be able to do this this year if GI is closed on Fridays/week days  be cause of construction of a new sea wall. We do not charge for our workshops. At most we suggest a donation for times when there are supplies needed that are not funded, neccessary to the training. 

The apprentice will gain experience in the cultivation of (please list all that apply):

Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs, Livestock

If your site is a farm, garden, or other crop propagation site, please list all that apply:

Organic but not certified

Does your site employ any non-organic farming practices (i.e. pesticides, fertilizers)?



Apprentice Requirements

What qualifications, skills, and experience do you want in your Farm School NYC student?

Open to learning, committed to the jointly developed apprenticeship program, timely, dependable, interested in the subject areas, interested in working in a group and independently.

What qualifications, skills, and experience do you require in your Farm School NYC student?

Ability to come on time, be dependable and work to the best of their ability,  and at least for 5 hours at a time , preferably for full days.

Which Farm School NYC courses are prerequisites for your apprenticeship? Please list all that apply:


Farm School NYC students will find out about apprenticeship opportunities on November 20, 2012. They will then be required to submit applications materials to their preferred sites. If a Farm School NYC student is interested in your apprenticeship, what type of application materials do you want from them?

Cover letter, Resume, Interview

Please explain:

I would like the apprentice to outline what they areas of study they would like to focus on/ most learn about in their apprenticeship  and what dreams they may have as far as future direction of their lives and application of what they want to take away from this  apprenticeship experience in their cover letter