AUA’s Farmer to Farmer Mentorship Program pairs emerging earth stewards with experienced earth stewards in a six month hybrid (on-farm and virtual) mentorship program. Calling on the rich knowledge in our growing community, the program provides a space for:

  • Self-directed learning on agricultural topics 
  • Share in mentor’s wealth of knowledge
  • Mutually beneficial relationships 

This program expands educational opportunities for emerging growers to  engage in and learn about: 

  1. Growing food, flowers, medicine, farming animals and insects in Chicago
  2. Access to quality, safe food through technical knowledge sharing
  3. Skills for environmental conservation of soil, water, and air in our region
  4. The web of collective power and solidarity amongst Chicago area farmers.

We’re accepting applications for beginning and experienced growers to participate in the apprenticeship program from May through November of 2023. Once matched, mentees and mentors, with the support and guidance of AUA staff, curate a learning plan for the course of the program complete with learning outcomes which fit their particular goals, outline an apprenticeship schedule which includes 10 hours of both on site and virtual learning opportunities, as well attend workshop and farm work day opportunities facilitated by AUA staff providing technical support on topics including, but not limited to: soil safety/wellness/health, water access, land farm infrastructure.

AUA recognizes that transforming our food future requires us to think critically about the ways we engage with labor and compensation practices. For this reason, both mentors and mentees are compensated for their time, commitment, and labor throughout the duration of the program. 

Mentors will be compensated at a rate of $25/hour, up to 10 hours per month for a total of 60 hours for sharing their knowledge and acting as thought leaders in the agriculture field.  

Mentees are given the opportunity to learn in-depth what it is to be a farmer at no cost. This program is free to mentees receiving mentorship, and compensates mentees for their time and labor while completing hands-on learning at a rate of $25/hour, up to 10 hours per month for a total of 60 hours.  

While the focus is on the viability and scalability of urban farm businesses,  home, school, or community gardeners are encouraged to apply as well. For additional support in those areas, please see AUA’s Urban Agriculture Resource Guide for a comprehensive listing of applicable resources and local organizations. 

This program, by farmers and for farmers, seeks:

  • Mentors: Farm business owners, farmer trainers, experienced composters, experienced beekeepers, farmed animal keepers, permaculture instructors, controlled environment and indoor growers. 
  • Mentees: Beginning farmers, new farm business owners, Large Lot or property owners interested in starting a farm business and/or community garden, farmers looking to expand their operation into new activities. All program participants must be available May 17th at 5pm CST for orientation. 

If you are interested, please submit a completed application by April 28th at 3pm. This cohort will consist of up to seven pairs. Submitting an application for consideration does not guarantee acceptance or participation in the program. There are multiple ways to submit an application. Regardless of submission style, applications must be received by the deadline to be considered. AUA accepts applications in one of the following ways:

  1. Google form application
  2. Word document/PDF application emailed to
    1. For a downloadable version of the application, click here
  3. Oral application
    1. If you want to submit your application orally, please email Bea Fry at to set up a time to talk before the application deadline. Please make the subject line of your email  ‘Farmer to Farmer Mentorship Oral Application Request’. 
  4. Mailed
    1. Mail to: Advocates for Urban Agriculture, PO Box 168083, Chicago, IL 60616. Mailed applications must be received by the deadline to be considered. AUA suggests sending in your application at least one week prior to the deadline. If mailed, Bea will reach out to you directly to confirm whether your application was received by the deadline. 

Equal Opportunity Statement: AUA works affirmatively to foster inclusive programming and does not discriminate in the selection of participants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, income, marital status, or any other dimension of identity. AUA strongly encourages applications from candidates and individuals with voices that have been historically under-represented in the food system, including but not limited to women, people of color, Black and Indigenous people.