Employer advice from ALBA (Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association)

employer advice

Today’s employer advice is from Nathan Harkleroad, Program Director at ALBA (Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association).

Q: Tell us about your organization.

ALBA is a 501(c)3 non-profit that creates opportunities for low-income field laborers through land-based training in organic farm management, helping them advance their careers or pursue the dream of farm ownership.

ALBA’s Farmer Education and Enterprise Development (FEED) project develops the organic farming skills of immigrant farmworkers to support a more equitable and environmentally sustainable agriculture sector. The project leverages ALBA’s experienced bilingual staff, a proven consortium of farm service providers and a 100-acre organic farm training facility in the Salinas Valley.

Each year, some 75 limited-resource farmers gain affordable access to education, land, farming equipment and technical assistance. Through hands-on, land-based learning, they develop organic production and business management skills to pursue the dream of farm ownership or find better jobs.

Q: What advice would you give to people in midlife who want to transition to a green job?

There are tremendous opportunities in farming other than just being ‘the farmer’ or doing fieldwork. Imagine working in quality assurance, food safety, farm management, ag engineering, even being an ag accountant or lawyer. The possibilities are limitless and there is tremendous job security working in agriculture. There is no stopping the fact that everyone has to eat, usually, 3 meals a day.

Take some courses at a community college, do an internship, but make sure you get some hands-on experience. You can’t work in agriculture without having some understanding of basic production.

Q: What are the skills that you believe will be required most in the short-medium term in your industry?

  • Critical thinking
  • Bilingual
  • Developing a ‘business mindset’
  • Supervising others
  • Flexibility and the ability to jump into new tasks
  • Communication (note, there are more modes of communication than ever, yet many people don’t understand some basic principles)
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