Organic Apple Farming Certificate Program

College Level Education program

Organic Apple Farming Certificate Program: this is a flexible learning and mentorship programwhere you can learn how to manage an organically certified apple orchard all year round; get ready to start your own orchard or take better care of the trees you have or advance your career in the organic apple farming. 

Registration:  $250   


Start date : February 16 2019 or variable. Overnight accommodations at WEI’s Eco-Retreat Center will be available for days committed to orchard farming and care taking.

Instructors:  Jacquelyn Zita, Dave Gutknecht, Jim Birkholz, Eric Gustafson 

Location:  WEI’s Amador Hill Farm and Orchard, 15715 River Road, North Branch (Amador Township), Minnesota, 55056. 

 Requirements: Required classes for Certificate students included in Certificate registration fee.


Registration includes the following:

Pruning and Grafting class (required)– February 16 or equivalent    

Organic IPM Pest Management class (required) –June 29

Red Ball Party March 10 (optional)

Directed Study: Readings in Organic Orcharding (TBD)

Practicum of orchard work days (TBD on individual basis)


WEI’s Organic Apple Farming Certificate Program includes guided instruction, mentorship, directed study, and practical skill building for year-long organic orchard care. Certificate students must complete all coursework, directed study, plus 80 hours of orchard work practicum to be eligible for WEI Certificate in Organic Farming and Letter of Completion and to be eligible for hire in the last three months of the program.  

WEI Certificate and Letter of Achievement: After completion of all requirements for WEI’s Organic Farming Certificate Program, you can request a final exam to verify what you have learned and skills you have acquired. The fee for this exam is $50 to pay for instructor grading time and exit interview. The final exam to verify what you have learned and skills you have acquired. If you pass your exam, you will receive WEI’s Organic Farming Certificate and Letter of Achievement which will verify what you have learned, what skills you have acquired, evaluation of your work ethic and aptitude for learning and any special assets you bring to organic orcharding or the future of organic apple production in Minnesota.  These documents may be used for future employment, school applications, transfer of credit or résumé feature. WEI will try to help you make these articulations.

Mentorship  Schedule and Job Opportunity: 

Students completing 80 hours of practicum in PART ONE will be eligible for hire as a full time or part time positions working on the orchard (September through mid-November) as you continue to learn the skills and knowledge informing organic apple production.  

To arrange practicum hours, contact jz@w-e-i.organd call
651-583-0705 to set up time to work on the WEI orchard. Available workdays on a weekly basis: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday (February through mid-November)


PART ONE areas of concentration (Feb-August volunteer practicum) 

  • Pruning and Grafting Class February 16
  • Winter Pruning  (Feb-March)
  • Orchard Clean up for Spring (March-April)
  • Planting bare root apple trees (end of April/early May)
  • Thinning the fruit set (May-June)
  • SCAB watch and Pest Trapping (May)
  • Organic Orchard IPM and Pest Management Class June 29
  • Summer Care of Young. Maturing and Older Apple Trees

PART TWO areas of concentration (September-mid November) 

  • Harvesting the Bounty  
  • Processing and Packing Out apples
  • Food Handling and Marketing (Sept-Oct)
  • Clean Up and Winterization of the Orchard (Oct-Nov)