Global Exchange

Year-round, MESA sponsors international trainees (“Stewards”) to learn and share sustainable agriculture practices with U.S. Host mentors.

MESA sponsors the Sustainable Agriculture & Global Exchange (SAGE) program. SAGE is a J-1 visa-designated training opportunity for beginning and established international farmers (Stewards) to train with U.S.-based farmers or ag. related organizations (Hosts) for an entire season.

U.S. Host sites embrace MESA’s learn-and-share model of cross-cultural exchange and are eager to share and learn traditions, techniques, and innovations in sustainable food and farming systems with Stewards. 

To qualify for SAGE, Steward candidates complete a 4-month online preparation program facilitated by MESA’s Global Partners, currently in Kenya, Peru & Sri Lanka, and their respective regions. MESA matches global candidates accordingly with U.S. farms after a rigorous vetting process. 

  • Hosts provide Stewards with supervision and mentorship through hands-on, varied activities within a 40-hour training week.
  • Hosts typically provide a lodging/food/stipend package.
  • MESA sponsors Stewards for 6-12 month at their Host assignments.
  • Hosts receive daily support for the entire season from an agriculturally experienced beginning farmer or student. Stewards enjoy a unique cultural exchange while developing their agricultural and business skills. MESA matches Hosts and Stewards and provides back-end support including visa sponsorship, coordinator support and educational enrichment. 
  • This program is less expensive or comparable to typical agricultural internship programs or less than a typical U.S. hourly wage for a farm crew member. 
  • Hosts and Stewards engage in a unique cultural exchange and pass along invaluable diversified agricultural knowledge. 

NOTE: In order to participate in SAGE as a Steward, candidates must: (1) Be recommended by one of MESA’s global partners after enrolling in and successfully completing the preparation programming; (2) Meet the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 trainee eligibility criteria, including advanced English speaking ability; and (3) Pass the in-person interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy.

Hands-on training may include skill-building in sustainable food production, distribution, marketing, education, research, and/or community organizing.

*MESA also sponsors 3-4 month short programs for groups of 3-6 Stewards to train with nonprofit, educational community farms and organizations.