Garden Apprenticeship Program

With Master Gardener, Jan Enthoven
Mid-April through Mid-October, Annually

The 2017 apprenticeship is full. Applications for 2018 will open in November 2017.
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Entering its fifth year, the Garden Apprenticeship Program (GAP) at Karmê Chöling is a unique six-month residential program from mid-April through mid-October in which participants receive both theoretical and practical training in organic gardening grounded in mindfulness and awareness. Apprentices will have the opportunity to integrate into community life, sharing home, meals, recreation, and meditation spaces.

The one-acre Karmê Chöling garden serves as a ground for learning, practice, work, and play. Its beauty and magic magnetizes visitors from around the world. Hundreds of different varieties, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, and mushrooms, are propagated each year by our dedicated garden staff. Produce from the garden supplies the Karmê Chöling kitchen during the growing season and beyond, and also supplies local households through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. A wide array of annual and perennial flowers attracts a plethora of pollinators and are used in Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging.

Program Curriculum

Apprentices are introduced to all aspects of the garden operation, from seed sowing, composting, and irrigation, to harvesting and garden planning. Apprentices are encouraged to take ownership of various tasks as their confidence grows and understanding deepens.

Learning is based on hands-on training in the field as well as learning in the “classroom”
with Master Gardener amanda-in-poppiesJan Enthoven.

Curriculum topics include:

  • Seed Sowing and Plant Propagation
  • Water and Irrigation
  • Soil Food Web
  • Building Superior Compost
  • Garden Design
  • Soil Nutrient Balancing
  • Crop Rotation Planning
  • Pest and Disease Management
  • Season Extension Methods
  • kiss-me-under-the-garden-gate-gazeboGrowing Mushroom
  • Why Community Supported Agriculture?

Periodic field trips to other local growing operations broaden the context of gardening. Supplemental education in food preservation, herbal medicine, and flower arrangement will also be offered.

The fruit of learning comes from following one’s inspiration through discipline and exertion. Therefore, apprentices are encouraged to join the rhythm of the community in work and practice, which includes a 5-hour workday, 5 days a week, and daily group meditation practice.

Apprentices do not need to have gardening experience prior to applying for the apprenticeship; however, apprentices must be self-motivated individuals interested in combining working with the Earth, their minds, and the community. The aim of the program is to enable apprentices to have an understanding of the basics of managing a garden and a solid foundation in meditation.

Meditation and Karmê Chöling

garden-buddha-smallApprentices are encouraged to participate in daily group meditation practices. Each apprentice will have a personal Meditation Instructor to guide them with their practice. During residence, apprentices may choose to participate in other programs offered at Karmê Chöling, if scheduling permits. A maximum of ten program days at the discounted rate are available for use during the apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship concludes with the opportunity to participate in two weeks of the 2017 Fall Dathün meditation retreat at Karmê Chöling.

At Karmê Chöling we foster a culture of kindness. This kindness is based on the active principles of gentleness and fearlessness, which allows us to experience our daily life as a constant opportunity to dissolve personal boundaries and build community. In this light, apprentices are invited to community meetings, discussions, workshops and classes as well as share in house tasks such as washing dishes.


Program Fee:  ~$3,600 (Fees may change slightly from year to year.)

Includes: Meals, a combination of dorm room and tent accommodations, and major discounts on programs. There is an additional fee of $25 for the Garden Study Binder.

Financial Aid: Limited financial aid may be available. Please include a statement of need in your application if you require financial aid to participate in this program.

Questions? Email the Garden Manager.



“The GAP program at Karme Choling was the best 6 months of my life. I went there for practical, hands on organic gardening classes and I left with much more. When I applied, I had no idea that I would learn to be so profoundly connected to a plot of land, a community of people, and my own mind. The program provides an abundance of knowledge and immersion into a world we don’t get a chance to experience in our busy, modern lives. Jan is a fantastic teacher and leader. He has spent decades creating and cultivating the most fertile, nutrient-dense soil alongside a welcoming, loving environment in which not only plants, but also people, grow. There’s no better way to learn organic gardening than from having your hands in that beautiful soil and your mind in the boundless company of other practitioners. I will forever cherish my time as a Garden Apprentice.”
~Kassie Harris, 2016 Garden Apprentice


“Mindfulness, awareness, gentleness, nurture, wonder, sharing…Basic Goodness. These are the words that the Karmê Chöling Garden Apprenticeship Program brings to mind. Truly an experience of a lifetime. Under the skillful guidance of Jan Enthoven and the Karmê Chöling garden staff, the apprentice is empowered to learn the fundamentals of artisanal organic gardening, witness the dharma manifest in our phenomenal world and immerse oneself in the Shambhala community. What an opportunity to cultivate mind, body and soil.”
~ Andrew Karasz, Garden Apprentice 2015

“The Garden Apprenticeship is a full and incomparable experience saturated in countless aspects of organic growing and management, via study, discussion and abundant hands-on learning. Equally, it is suffused with community living and exploring how enlightened society can manifest on a daily basis, time for individual practice and study and testing the delicate interplay between work, practice and play.” 
~ Lucas Kovacevich, 2014 Garden Apprentice

Watch Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal, interview Karmê Chöling’s former Garden Manager Aaron DeLong about his work in the Karmê Chöling garden, what he’s learned from Jan, and how the Shambhala teachings have influenced his gardening work.

The Appenticeship Staff