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Training opportunities for the next generation of food and farming leaders in agroecology

Agroecology, Farming and Food Pathways (AFFP)

an engaging training and certificate program in Urban & Rural Agroecological Food Systems and Microenterprise (prioritizing enrollment for socially disadvantaged US residents) 

MESA’s Agroecology, Farming & Food Pathways (AFFP) offers two consecutive, participatory online courses to explore a career in agriculture. Enrollees located near MESA’s three California partner sites enroll in course curriculum for class assignments and participate in weekly course discussion and guest presentation sessions. Earn a Certificate in Applied Agroecology upon completion of the coursework. Students also participate in hands-on farm workshops and site visits. MESA’s main partners and CA regions are:

  • The Center for Food, Faith and Justice and EcoVillage Farm Learning Center (Berkeley/Richmond)
  • Mission Resource Conservation District and Edge of Urban Farm (Fallbrook/Vista)
  • Institute for Sustainability at Cal State University (Northridge campus)

What is a Cohort? Each cohort group consists of 15-20 students and is led by one of MESA’s three CA partners. A fourth, online-only cohort to accommodate students outside our 3 CA partner regions is led by MESA staff. The four-month program starts with an introduction to Agroecology and leads to earning a Certificate in Advanced Agroecology from MESA and our partner institution. 

What’s included? The AFFP course includes:

  • Intro & Advanced Agroecology curriculum
  • 12 weekly, participatory Class sessions
  • Six, half-day Saturday farm workshops*
  • Two local farm or ag-related enterprise visits*

*Due to Covid-19 restrictions, site visits may be virtual; each partner team/location will determine when the in-person cohort sessions may safely begin.

Scholarship Eligibility: Students who meet the USDA’s eligibility criteria as socially disadvantaged under the 2501 Program have registration priority and receive full AFFP scholarship, which includes additional fellowship opportunities for apprenticeships, mentor matching, mini-grants, application support for USDA grants and loans, and more.

We are currently recruiting for our next program scheduled to begin on April 27, 2021 and conclude in August, 2021. Future AFFP start dates will be posted as available. To receive more information about our next cohort program detail and exact start/end dates, which may vary by CA partner, please fill out the inquiry form below. 

AFFP Program cost:  $0. Candidates who qualify as socially disadvantaged via USDA guidelines receive priority enrollment. Enrollees who do not meet SDEF criteria or with greater economic means are invited to consider making a suggested donation of $250 to support ongoing program development and opportunities. All limited resource learners are always welcome!

To request an application, please start by filling out the Inquiry Form below. NOTE: THE AFFP IS OPEN FOR U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY.

Please note: After completion of the Introduction & Advanced Agroecology course, students are invited to continue as AFFP Fellows to earn an Applied Agroecology certificate and receive support to apply for USDA funding opportunities, and additional programming opportunities through MESA and our strategic partners.

Training in Applied Agroecology Program (TAAP)

engaging Applied Agroecology curriculum combined with hands-on training (prioritizing enrollment for socially disadvantaged US residents)

Currently offering two certificate-tracks:


  1. Certificate in Applied Agroecology*:

The certificate program uses a cohort model, and is designed to induce self-inquiry as fellows define and advance their interest in agroecology, farming & food pathways. Fellows will complete 14 weekly sessions over 4 months, assignments (including professional development topics), as well as work with a mentor to complete a learning plan to complete 80 hours of self directed learning (50 hours of hands-on work & 30 hours of technical training). We use Google classroom to facilitate course materials, assignment submissions, and meet virtually using Zoom. Key course themes include: (1) Food Sovereignty, (2) Food Systems, (3) Participatory Action, (4)  Land Defense, (5) Sustainable Agroecosystems, (6) Agroecological Practices.


  1. Certificado en Introducción a la Agroecología (ofrecido en español) → Certificate in Introduction to Agroecology (offered in Spanish):

El certificado incluye sesiones y actividades de desarrollo profesional. Los estudiantes completarán 8 sesiones durante 4 meses (2 mensuales) y asignaciones (incluidos temas de desarrollo profesional). Usamos el aula de Google para facilitar los materiales del curso, el envío de tareas y reunirnos virtualmente con Zoom. Los temas clave del curso incluyen: (1) Soberanía alimentaria, (2) Sistemas alimentarios, (3) Acción participativa, (4) Defensa de la tierra, (5) Agroecosistemas sostenibles, (6) Prácticas agroecológicas.


The certificate course includes coursework and professional development activities.  Students will complete 8 sessions over 4 months (2 monthly), and assignments (including professional development topics).  We use Google classroom to facilitate course materials, assignment submissions, and meet virtually using Zoom.  Key course themes include: (1) Food Sovereignty, (2) Food Systems, (3) Participatory Action, (4)  Land Defense, (5) Sustainable Agroecosystems, (6) Agroecological Practices.

Please Note: Students in the Certificate in Applied Agroecology will have opportunities to complete part or all of their training hours at Empower School & Farm in Umatilla, Florida. Information will be provided to students enrolled in TAAP.  

TAAP cost:  $0 for candidates who qualify as socially disadvantaged via USDA guidelines receive priority enrollment. Donations to support all limited resource learners are always welcome!

To request an application, please start by filling out the Inquiry Form below. NOTE: AFFP and TAAP ARE CURRENTLY OPEN FOR U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY.

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