Earth Matter Compost Learning Center

Location of apprenticeship site: Governors Island
Name and title of supervisor: Marisa DeDominicis, Director
Supervisor Contact Info (Email and Phone):   cell: 917 447 7256
Number of Apprenticeship Positions available at your site: 2
Title of apprenticeship position(s): Governors Island Compost Learning Center demonstration farm, animal husbandry and composting apprentice
Have you had an apprentice in the past? Yes
Name of Apprentices: Prita Lal, Rose Livingston, Will Thomson

Is your site accessible via NYC public transportation (i.e. train or bus)? If yes, please provide public transportation directions to your site. If no, what is the best way to reach your site? Please provide directions:

  • Subway: 1 to South Ferry station 4, 5 to Bowling Green station R to Whitehall St. station
  • Bus: M1 (weekdays only), M6, M9, and M15
  • Then take the Governors Island ferry and walk / bike to Compost Learning Center @ Picnic Point  

Why do you want to work with an apprentice?

I want to grow, teach and learn to teach better, and be taught from my apprentices, how to better grow crops and flowers, with applications of compost and soil amendments,  through these experiences, share with people who are like minded and interested, the  work that I love so dearly, my work at the Compost Learning Center, involving as many as possible aspects of sustainability training and being and grow awareness of what we can do to affect change. I want to help apprentices get more training and information so they can be better equipped to work in this farming field.

Apprentice Work Schedule

Hours per week: 

8 hours a week minimum and maximum 35 hours per week. The apprentice must commit to two days a week.

Hours total (140 hours minimum):

140 total hours

Does your apprenticeship have a specific start and end date? If yes, please provide the start and end dates:

The apprenticeship will run from Mid May to the end of September, although a time to go away from the city can be arranged ahead of time. Schedules are explained to applicants and decided on during their interview.

Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule with specific days and times? 


Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule that is flexible and/or you are willing to wait and create a schedule that works for the apprentice? (A set schedule must be agreed upon in writing prior to the start of the apprenticeship.) 


Financial Details

Will you offer the apprentice payment or a stipend? If yes, please describe:

We are not able to offer a stipend at this time.

Apprenticeship Description

Please list all of the following categories that apply to this apprenticeship:

  • Crop Production, Animal Husbandry, Teaching, Advocacy, Enterprise, Community Food Arts

Please describe the apprenticeship responsibilities and tasks. Please specify if the apprentice will have a specific project or whether they will be involved with general operations.:

  • The apprentice (s) will have specific tasks they will be responsible for doing. We have a demo farm and they will assist with all aspects of this demo farm including bed preparation, planting, watering (drip?) weeding, harvesting and what to do with the harvest; cooking demo etc. The apprentices will be responsible for shifts of animal care. We have chickens, goats, bees and will have rabbits during this apprenticeship period. Apprentices will also be training in making compost; all aspects of collection, processing and application on crops *. We hope to also have our compost tea operation in motion for them to be trained.

What will the apprentice learn through this apprenticeship? 

Apprentices will learn by hands on working : 

  • How to grow food, 
  • How to grow flowers, 
  • How to design a small demonstration farm (up to but most likely a lot less than 3 acres).
  • How to prepare a small demonstration farm for planting with compost
  • How to tend to a hot sunny location that has a watering source,
  • How to tend to animals: chickens goats, bees and rabbits; we have a unique care system that involves feeding them a diet of spent beer grain and food scraps and compost their poop
  • Possibly how to market eggs and possibly veggies, herbs and flowers to GI vendors and visitors
  • How to make compost and keep records. Compost program managed by our compost manager Charlie
  • Learn about All aspects of Earth Matter compost operations on GI
  • Educational programming: we conduct trainings for all groups and ages of people; Apprentices will co lead these  trainings in agricultural related trainings for all types of trainees - children and adults
  • Educational programming around compost and growing activities at events; on Governors Island apprentices will have the opportunity to interact with public at events to generate interest and promote people  (New Yorkers ) planting themselves and tending their plants,  and composting activities if desired by apprentice.
  • Work  with staff and volunteers and other apprentices on a number of diverse building projects
  • Website development and social media outlets via writing for publicizing Earth Matter work.
  • Other administrative skills -  such as record keeping and data collection

Supervisor & Site Details

How does your farm/project reflect the following Farm School NYC vision: “Farm School NYC aims to increase the self-reliance of communities and inspire positive local action around issues of food access and social, economic and racial justice”?

  • Everything Earth Matter does is geared to this vision of food access and social, economic and racial justice. We continue to delve deeper every season with how we are reaching for this goal. Our workshops and trainings are free. We gear them to public visitors, and public schools, community gardens and community volunteer groups, so they can take what they learn from Earth Matter back to their communities. We work with all partners on Governors Island; we feel blessed that our vendor partners are racially mixed and come from various socio economic places so that the food and flowers that we will grow with the apprentices will be sold/bartered at a reasonable threshold for them. We have a member based organization that drives what we take on as far as direction and capacity. For example,  we will only get rabbits if the membership , which is for the most runs like a cooperative with the exception of 2 part time staff and 1 full time position (me). This funding for the positions and the supplies to run the Compost Learning Center come from the Dept of Sanitation's NYC Compost Project  via LORP (Local Organic Recovery Program). We are purposely located on Governors Island because it is free to come and therefore allows all people to experience our work and become involved.

What experience and knowledge will you (the Supervisor) share with the apprentice?

  • Every thing that I have learned in my 51 years on the planet starting from a young girl stirring 150 jars of tomato sauce in a cauldron in the back yard for the year's supply of dinner sauce, to being an environmental education teacher with a focus on design and plants in school yard and community gardens, to being a gardener myself for 29 years.
  • In addition to my supervision, my co director and compost manager, Charlie Bayrer, part time educator Molly Culver, and several of Earth Matter's experienced core members, will supervise various aspects of apprentices’ work. Once apprentices have been interviewed and selected and the details of the scope of their work is decided, key people will be assigned to supervise the apprentice in the specific areas of focus.

What is exciting about your apprenticeship site?

  • It is beautiful place, spacious, not defined totally so that the apprentice can have say as to what happens in the space to a degree. We love our focus on animals and we love that visitors come  to be a part of us on Saturdays and Sundays. We love that we have the opportunity to influence the public and visiting groups with our demo farm. We love that we are developing great relationships with regular visitors, our neighboring school the NY Harbor School, our compost apprentice program, high school interns, and our Americorps training program with the  Green Guerrilla Youth Tiller Program. What motivates us is working with our friends and volunteers who embrace the work we endeavor to accomplish. 

Is the work of your site rooted in or connected to New York City? Please explain:

  • We work closely with  NYHS  (we have interns that work at the Compost Learning Center), which is a public school. We host school groups that are title #1 schools when possible; and diverse groups of all natures inherent in the NYC population. All of our trainings are free and accessible to New Yorkers. 

Does your site work with low-income communities? If yes, please explain the nature of your work with low-income communities:

  • As mentioned above, we work with NYC title #1 schools. We work with programs such as DOE school groups, summer internship programs such as Girls Inc, NY Parks Foundation interns, community gardens, Gowanus Canal Conservancy i We hope to be able to connect with programs such as the NYHA developments for summer camp workshops and school groups. We may not be able to do this this year if GI is closed on Fridays/week days  be cause of construction of a new sea wall. We do not charge for our workshops. At most we suggest a donation for times when there are supplies needed that are not funded, neccessary to the training. 

The apprentice will gain experience in the cultivation of (please list all that apply):

  • Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs, Livestock

If your site is a farm, garden, or other crop propagation site, please list all that apply:

  • Organic but not certified; the site is a farm.

Does your site employ any non-organic farming practices (i.e. pesticides, fertilizers)?

  • No

Apprentice Requirements

What qualifications, skills, and experience do you want in your Farm School NYC student?

  • Open to learning, committed to the jointly developed apprenticeship program, timely, dependable, interested in the subject areas, and interested in working in a group as well as independently.

What qualifications, skills, and experience do you require in your Farm School NYC student?

  • Punctual, dependable, and willing to work to the best of their ability for at least for 5 hours at a time, preferably for full days.

Which Farm School NYC courses are prerequisites for your apprenticeship?

  • Propagation

If a student is interested in your apprenticeship what type of application materials do you want from them?

  • Cover letter, Resume, Interview

Please explain:

  • I would like the apprentice to outline which areas of study they would like to focus on/ learn about in their apprenticeship. I would also like to know what dreams they may have as far as the future direction of their lives and application of what they want to take away from this apprenticeship experience in their cover letter.