Without trained and empowered people, it is impossible to build a sustainable tribal food system. Recognizing this need, TOCA established the "New Generation of O'odham Farmers" program in 2009.
Dedicated to training and empowering community members to begin careers in sustainable agriculture, this progam emerged from experiences on TOCA's two farms and the interests of local young adults to learn how to create a livelihood for themselves in their own communities. As part of TOCA's co-farming/co-gardening collaboration, "New Generation" apprentices and interns work alongside Project Oidag, TOCA's Food Corps members and partner organizations on many local projects.
There are two different tracks in the New Generation program:
• Intensive Farming Apprenticeships – These full-time, paid apprentices receive both formal training and on-the-job experience aimed at providing them with the skills they will need to begin their own agricultural careers. Apprentices have engaged in activities as diverse as attending workshops of seed saving to planting and harvesting their own fields at TOCA's farms, from teaching gardening workshops at Indian Oasis Elementary School to presenting at an internation food expo in Paris, France.
• Farming & Gardening Internships – These part-time and summer interns learn the basics of both traditional and modern farming and gardening practices, cultural traditions linked to agriculture, nutrition and much more.
More than just providing specific training in farming, the New Generation program reflects TOCA's empowerment model, working with participants to build the life skills they need in order to live successful and fulfilling lives whether or not they eventually chose careers in agriculture.
In addition, the training of new farmers and gardeners is a key part of TOCA's larger efforts to rebuild a sustainable food system. As such, TOCA has developed a logic model in which beginning farmer training is simply one component: