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Black Oak Farms: Farmer Educator Trainees 2024

Company: Black Oak Farms

Salary: $36000 / per year Location: St. Anne, Illinois


Starts March 15, 2024



In 2024, Black Oaks Center (BOC) will hire up to six Farmer-Educator Trainees for a co-educational, three-year program of intensive training and practice in all aspects of regenerative farming, including farm business training. Our goal is to hire and train motivated individuals in regenerative farming practices, so each can become a vital part of our collaborative farming community. At the end of the program, Trainees can either start their own regenerative agricultural business or farm on BOC farm properties or remain a BOC employee supporting BOC farms and educating new Trainees and beginning farmers. 

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living (BOC) is a black-led non-profit institution dedicated to local food system development in Illinois and the surrounding region. Situated in the historic Black farming community of Pembroke Township, we’ve been actively restoring its legacy of Regenerative Farming since 2011. As of 2024, over 20 parcels, totaling 300+ acres, are earmarked for small farm viability projects, encompassing vegetable and melon production, agroforestry including berry and tree fruit cultivation, livestock management, high tunnel production, hemp, grain, and legume cultivation.

Our 100-year Vision is to restore this once-fruitful farming community to a thriving natural environment and food production hub. We are actively seeking trainees, and especially persons of color, who wish to enter organic, ecological, or regenerative farming as a way  of life. If you are passionate about what is possible in the current global energy transition, and want to be a part of a land-based solution to the climate crisis, join us in this mission. The ideal candidate is ready to learn and contribute to sustainable and regenerative practices, and prepared to become a leader, teacher, and community collaborator in this innovative restoration effort. At BOC, we believe in preserving culture and the planet through our commitment to healthy and regenerative farming, ensuring the highest quality and quantity of nutrient-dense harvests. Each production season, we grow, harvest, process, package, and distribute fresh vegetables, medicinal and culinary herbs to community health clinics,  individuals, health collectives, wholesalers, and specialty retail outlets throughout Greater Chicagoland.

The program you would enter is planned to run three years with increasing levels of practical application and specialization throughout. Year One surveys an entire small farm curriculum from farm design to broadacre cropping, high-tunnel and perennial management, livestock, beekeeping, agroforestry, soil development, and more, combining classroom and fieldwork, virtual and live instruction. Trainees will be provided Permaculture Design Training during Year One and have the option to pursue a concurrent Diploma in Regenerative Land Management or other specialization through our partner Permaculture Institute of North America (pina.in). 

Year Two is an Applied Practicum in these arts, involving assistance to other beginning farmers, and Year Three is a Specialization Intensive designed to support deeper learning and practice in your areas of greatest interest. 

Successful completion of the 3-year program qualifies the trainee for placement on BOC-controlled farmland in the Pembroke region, either as a long-term lessee or a farm proprietor, with support and collaboration through numerous community systems. Continuing employment with BOC or in consulting roles is a strong possibility for motivated candidates.

In addition to salary, Trainees will be provided private rooms with shared common facilities on our EcoCampus. Cooperation with fellow trainees extends from the classroom to supervised vegetable, poultry, and livestock production activities, to shared management of common areas (kitchen, baths, meeting and study spaces) to support for farm system upgrades (repairs, maintenance, planting, land management, irrigation systems, and more). Teamwork and a positive attitude are essential.

Because trainees will share common cooking and bathing facilities, good personal and collective hygiene, a tolerance for varied diets, and the ability to work harmoniously with others is a requirement. Our BOC staff includes individuals who are omnivores and others who eat plant-based diets based on their nutritional needs and desires. Courtesy will be shown to all. 

Though focused on intensive training and skill-building, this program is oriented to professional development, and you will be expected to interact respectfully and effectively with other BOC staff, local farmers, visitors, and members of the public.

We invite you to consider joining us as we grow the Black Oaks Center, and bring our 100-Year Vision closer to reality with each passing season.


Ideal Candidates Should Have:


  • Farming background or experience in land or resource management or environmental science
  • Education/Experience as described below
  • Some experience in the use and care of hand tools and machinery
  • Permaculture Design training would be a strong plus


  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills 
  • Proficiency in computer programs (Excel, Word, Email)  
  • Strong interest in problem-solving, research, and sharing knowledge


  • Able to work steadily outdoors in varied weather conditions, and to perform physical activities with good coordination and safety
  • Able to both make independent decisions and to collaborate with colleagues
  • Willingness to contribute ideas on expanding, diversifying, or improving operation and  systems
  • Multi-task oriented and organized
  • A valid drivers license


    • High School diploma, GED, and two or more years college or other tertiary education OR equivalent experience in teaching and mentoring others, in research, writing, or communication arts.
  • A passion for land, farming, and the environment, and a desire to share knowledge and to help and support other beginning farmers. We seek individuals who wish to master the myriad complex arts of landcare, who excel in collaboration with people, have good knowledge of healthy food, ecology, and rural/urban dichotomies, and who exhibit strong problem-solving skills. 
  • The ability to motivate others and uphold high standards for organic and sustainable production is uppermost. 
  • We highly value candidates with a comfort level in navigating spaces led by individuals of color, demonstrating diverse cultural exposure and awareness. Preference will be given to those who embrace and contribute to the rich tapestry of our community as we work towards our collective vision of sustainable and regenerative farming.


How to Apply

Black Oaks Center For Sustainable Renewable Living

Pembroke Eco-Campus & E 3000S, Pembroke Township, IL  60958   (773)410-3446  careers@blackoakscenter.org


To apply for any of the three positions offered, please send a letter of intent (why you want to do this work), a current resume, and three letters of reference to the email above.