Apprenticeship Site - Weeksville Heritage Center

General Information

Name of apprenticeship site:

Weeksville Heritage Center

Location of apprenticeship site:

1698 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11213

Name and title of supervisor:

Eric-Michael Rodriguez, Curator of Cultivations and Farm Manager

Supervisor Contact Info (Email and Phone):, (718) 756-5250 ext.308 

Number of Apprenticeship Positions available at your site:


Title of apprenticeship position(s): 

        Community Compost Project Intern

        Wildlife Habitat and Heritage Livestock Project Intern

         Farmers Market and Community Food Entrepreneurship Project Intern

         Bioheritage Farm, Native Gardens and Community Seed Lending Library Intern

Have you had a Farm School NYC apprentice in the past? Yes

If yes, interested students might contact previous apprentices to learn more about your site.
Name(s) of previous apprentice(s):

Tai Gilbert

Aeli Gladstein

Prita Lal

Arian Rivera

Ai Hirashiki 

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: 


A, C Train to Utica Avenue
Walk four short blocks south on UticaAvenue to Bergen Street
Turn left onto Bergen Street.

3 or 4 Train to Utica Avenue
Walk north on Utica Avenue for eight blocks to Bergen Street
Turn right onto Bergen Street

B65, B15
To Bergen Street, near Buffalo Avenue / B46 Local to Bergen Street,
Walk past the police station. 

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


Farm School NYC students are in the unique position of engaging various community members and stakeholders in food justice through the frameworks of race, class and gender. WHC is committed to community-based projects that are steered by these principles. We believe that based on the core values espoused by Farm School NYC that apprentices would be a good fit for our programs.


Apprentice Work Schedule

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

# of Hours per week: 5 to 35

# of Hours total (140 hours minimum): 160-1120

Does your apprenticeship have a specific start and end date?   Yes              

If yes, please provide the start and end dates: 


Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule with specific days and times? No  

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 actively seeking funding streams to pay interns during their educational experience, but we currently do not have the funds. Interns may have the opportunity to apply for farm internships at Weeksville under the Americorps program that will provide them will health insurance, a monthly living stipend and an educational award grant.

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.:  

All apprentices will be involved in the general operations of both the Farm and edible native plant collections as much as they are interested in being involved and as much as their individual schedules allow, but individual interns will have specific projects in which they will specialize. Interns may be able to combine two or more internships for a broader-based educational opportunity if they desire. 

 Primary Areas of Focus:

Community Compost Project Intern

organizing and maintain a collapsible, flexible design, multi-bin community drop-off composting facility

creating speciality compost mixes for various plant needs. Examples: bacterial composts for vegetable production, fungal compost for edible native plantings and fruit trees

creating specialty compost teas in an on-site industrial-sized compost tea brewing system and delivering compost tea to field crops through an computerized irrigation system

labeling and packing compost for community give-aways

creating specialty soil-based mixes for various plant requirements. Examples: mixes for seedlings, soil blocks, potting mixes, etc.

logging and recording relevant compost data

Wildlife Habitat and Heritage Livestock Project Intern:

building and co-maintaining a bee apiary of 11 bee hives

caring for a collection of heritage ducks and rabbits

constructing species-specific bird houses and other biodiversity structures for wildlife habitat

tracking/recording migratory birds vists

monitoring and maintaining an outdoor aquaponics system under a geodesic dome greenhouse

harvesting eggs, honey, wax, and propolis for value-added products to be produced in the Farmers Market and Community Food Entrepreneurship Program

Farmers Market and Community Food Entrepreneurship Project Intern:

harvesting produce from native plant collections and bioheritage farm for farmers market and public canning/traditional food preservation public programs

co-developing a multimedia community cookbook of food, homeopathic medicines and oral histories

working with youth to help develop their summer food entrepreneurship project idea

identifying potential participants in the Food Entrepreneurship Project who reside in the Weeksville, Albany, and Kingsborough Houses of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) with the goal of helping them create their own value-added products for sale at the Weeksville Farmers Market

co-running our weekly (and potentially year-round farmers market

Bioheritage Farm, Native Gardens and Community Seed Lending Library Project Intern:

co-managing a seed collection of over 500 accessions

co-facilitating community seed giveaways and visit nearby community gardens with our traveling seed briefcases

propagating seeds to be grown on farm and in edible native collections and using appropriate physical isolation techniques to prevent varietal cross-polination

propagate edible native plants at the Weeksville Community Native Plant nursery for give-aways and for sale at the farmers market using Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT)

co-managing multiple greenhouses and season extension systems for year-round growing for market 

What will the apprentice learn through this apprenticeship?

Community organizing skills, production farm propagation and growing practices, yearround growing techniques, ecological restoration practices, food entrepreneurship skills, farmers market management, engineered soil production, public programming curation at a “radical”museum and academic institution.


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”?

The goal of WHC’s comprehensive Green Weeksville program is to increase access to fresh local produce in North Crown Heights and to educate children and youth about gardening and nutrition through hands-on activities that are rooted in African American history. The Green Weeksville program will achieve this goal through four major programmatic areas: Weeksville’s BioHeritage Farm, on-site Farmers Market (including cooking & nutrition workshops and recipe exchange), a community seed farm and lending library, and two in-school gardening and nutrition program for elementary and high school students. These programs contribute to the creation of a sustainable community food system in North Crown Heights, Brooklyn, while simultaneously preserving African American gardening and cooking traditions. Fresh seasonal produce is essential to traditional African American cooking. In Central Brooklyn, the dearth of retail venues selling fresh produce is threatening these cooking traditions. We will begin a recipe exchange at the Farmers Market that will increase the skill and knowledge sharing that already takes place among customers. To fortify and improve our ability to implement and expand these programs effectively, WHC will engage our community partners, market customers, and general public through a Community Advisory Council and public forums.

Main Project Goals:

1. Increase community food security for low-income individuals in North Crown Heights by offering fresh, affordable produce at the Weeksville Farmers Market and expanding market activities.

2. Preserve African American gardening and cooking traditions. These goals will be achieved through the following objectives:

Objective 1: Provide high-quality, affordable local produce to residents through an on-site Farmers Market. Improve the sustainability of the market and provide increased opportunities for skill-sharing by providing food entrepreneur business skills workshops, recruiting additional Brooklyn-based vendors, creating a recipe exchange, and public canning/traditional food preservation business incubator program.

Objective 2: Create a Community Advisory Council and Open Market Forums to increase WHC’s accountability to the community. Input from the Community Advisory Council and forums will be used to create long-term goals for the market.

Objective 3: Pilot a seed saving program and community seed lending library that engages youth and community gardeners to preserve African American heirloom seed varieties and gardening traditions, as well as endangered seeds and seeds from areas of armed conflict.

Objective 4: Develop a recipe exchange for market customers. Recipe exchange will preserve African American cooking traditions, encourage intergenerational skill sharing, and further engage market customers. This program will also preserve and formalize an important community-building aspect of our market that already takes place: customers sharing cooking information and ideas while purchasing food.

Objective 5: Provide hands-on gardening and nutrition programs for elementary and high school students through the partnerships with PS 243 and Boys and Girls High School (BGHS). 

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

year-round production farming, youth development, public benefit systems, native plant ecosystems, historical African-American food pathways and traditions, greenhouse techniques, seed saving and plant breeding, beekeeping, animal husbandry

What is exciting about your apprenticeship site? 

Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC) is an American history museum that preserves the legacy of an intentional community started by free African Americans in 1838 in Brooklyn, NY. WHC interprets this history by connecting it to current issues facing our community, including the need for self-reliant, sustainable food systems. More than 150 years ago, the original inhabitants of Weeksville created an environmentally-conscious community. Residents grew and preserved their own fruits and vegetables, recycled water for cleaning purposes, used compost in their yards, and beautified their homes with wild plants. Contemporary Brooklyn no longer has the clean, natural environment that historic Weeksville once thrived in, even as scientists, farmers, and environmental activists call for communities to work together to provide healthy food and living space. In response, WHC currently partners with local residents, community organizations, and public schools to address these needs through our Green Weeksville program.

This Summer, WHC is opening a 40-million dollar LEED Gold-certified performing arts, education and research center with a 2-acre native plant garden and a ¾-acre year-round production farm. 

Is the work of your site rooted in or connected to New York City?  Yes
Does your site work with low-income communities? Yes
If yes, please explain the nature of your work with low-income communities: 

1. WHC is located in Central Brooklyn, which includes the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Western Brownsville. In 2000, the population of Central Brooklyn was 317,296. Demographically, Central Brooklyn is principally African American/Black, with nearly 80% of residents identifying as such. Another 11% of the population identified themselves as Hispanic/Latino and less than 5% as Caucasian.

2). The Central Brooklyn community is faced with some of New York City’s highest poverty rates with approximately 40% of the population living below the poverty line, and 55% receiving some kind of public assistance. While residents 18 years of age and under make up only about 33% of the total Central Brooklyn population, they also account for 50% of the community living in poverty. The Central Brooklyn community is simultaneously faced with high rates of poverty and little access to fresh produce and affordable supermarkets. According to a 2006 report by the New York City Department of Health, 8 in 10 food stores in North and Central Brooklyn are bodegas, which tend to carry a narrower range of products at higher prices than supermarkets. Only about 28% of bodegas carry fresh fruits and only 10% of bodegas sell leafy green vegetables. Additionally, in Bedford-Stuyvesant 82% of retailers are unlikely to sell fresh fruit and vegetables at al. This lack of access to healthy food has impacted residents’ health. About 30% of adults in Bedford-Stuyvesant are obese, compared to 20% in New York City as a whole.

2). Further, a 2003 study by the New York City Department of Health found that 20% of Central Brooklyn residents identified themselves as in “poor” or “fair” health, compared to 14% nationwide. 

Will the apprentice’s responsibilities include food cultivation?   Yes    
Please list all that apply:

The site is a farm, this site is a garden.

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

Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs, Livestock, Other

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

Organic but not certified, Use IPM (Integrated Pest Management), Biodynamic, No-Till Farming

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? 

Prior community organizing and development experience

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


Open-mindedness, flexibility, basic carpentry skills, basic horticultural skills, ability to keep accurate records, knowledge of personal allergies and medical conditions that may need accommodation. Example: allergy to bee stings, easily heat-stroked, prior physical injuries that may become exacerbated through physical activity, etc. 

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


Interns should have some experience with major topics of the following courses, but knowledge of all subjects is not a requirement:

Food Justice
Carpentry and Building Basics
Growing Soil
NYC as an Ecosystem
Pest/Disease Identification and Management
Crop Planning
Season Extension
Small Farm Planning and Design
Preparing for Winter
Training of Trainers 

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?