This 6 month apprenticeship takes place in our gardens at the Tree of Life Center US in Patagonia, Arizona.  Located in the ‘Mountain Empire’ region of southern Arizona at an elevation of 4500 feet, Patagonia experiences a four-season climate in a desert savannah/scrub forest biome.  Our location in Santa Cruz County is in one of the most scenic areas of the southwest.  Because of our proximity to Mexico and the mountain islands of southern Arizona, our location is in a region that is the subject of much research and natural resource conservation activity.

Apprentices will become trained in the various aspects of sustainable veganic gardening. The Tree of Life Center US is a spiritual community and destination holistic healing and training center that works to create world peace and a sustainable future.  Meaningfully participation in the spiritual community at the Tree of Life is an integral part of the apprenticeship.

What is veganic gardening?

Veganic gardening is the organic cultivation and production of food crops utilizing methods that are sourced only from plants, and using no herbicides, pesticides, inorganic fertilizers, animal by-products, or genetically modified seeds. Many “vegan” foods that you buy do in fact use animal-sourced inputs at the farm, even if the end product is comprised only of plants. Veganic farming uses no animal products or by-products such as bloodmeal, fish products, bone meal, feces, or other animal-origin matter, making the end product truly plant-sourced only.

Sustainable veganic gardening at the Tree of Life

At the Tree of Life, our veganic gardening methods employ specific techniques which focus on the fertility of the soil and the optimum nutrient density of the crops. Our agricultural approach supports our higher intention for spiritual and sustainable growth. Therefore we grow food to meet the dietary recommendations of Dr. Cousens – a vegan, organic, live-food, high mineralized, low-sugar, and high hydration diet. As such, the focus of our production is on sprouts, greens, and vegetables, though we do have a few fruit and nut trees on the property. We utilize a variety of methods that promote soil vitality, including EM-probiotic soil conditioning, sheet composting, vegan fertilization alternatives, composite mineral supplementation through seaweed extracts and low-water use irrigation.

About the Instructor:

John Phillips, MS

John Phillips, MSJohn’s professional experiences reflect his lifelong goals of helping to create world peace by helping to end world hunger; and his interest in fostering human evolution through the link between scientific and spiritual development. He teaches “Gardening for Peace” – aimed at changing human consciousness to make us aware of our connections with spirit and each other. This teaching has both practical applications to increase the world food supply, and the consciousness-raising potential to help lead us to a state of “Awakened Being”.

John is CEO of the Living Earth Training Center, Inc, where he develops training programs and internships in sustainable organic agriculture. He has served as CEO of EM Nature Farming Methods and helped foster the expansion of em technologies in the United States and other countries in the Americas. His contributions to the Tree of Life include conducting training programs and seminars, developing intern training programs in gardening and landscaping, and land management planning and design of the 160 acre campus and a supporting 10-acre satelite facility.

Why is veganic farming so important now?

As Dr. Gabriel Cousens has written about extensively, animal agriculture (factory farming in particular) is an ever-increasing disaster for the land, air, water, and local ecosystems, as well as typically using 10-20 times more energy than the veganic farming methods as employed at the Tree of Life.

Current wide-scale animal agricultural practices are a major cause of resource depletion, more so than all other energy uses combined, due mostly to the resources required to grow the excess grain needed to feed the animals we eat. Veganic farming, particularly if practiced by a significant percentage of humanity, moves us strongly toward a viable alternative solution to our current environmental crises.

From a spiritual perspective, the karma associated with plant-source only agriculture supports the awakening of the higher expression of human consciousness on the planet. The way we eat determines the way we live, and the way we eat is determined by the way we farm; food production represents our relationship with the earth. If this relationship is free from exploitation and cruelty to animals and the earth, it positively affects the content of our minds and our lives.

The popularization of vegetarianism and veganism roughly correlates with the civil rights movements and cultural revolutions that have illuminated the need for equality amongst all peoples in our societies. Now is the time to further this journey into light and life through a revolution in our farming practices. Now is the time for veganic agriculture.


Apprentices must be physically capable and hardworking as they will be expected to be a productive and contributing member of our team. A regular work schedule will be followed throughout the apprenticeship and is expected to be maintained. Please understand that we experience a wide variety of climatic conditions so please come prepared for the full range of weather conditions.

Apprentices are expected to live in harmony with the Tree of Life Dharma, which includes attending the evening programs (Group meditations, satsangs, and spiritual ceremonies) a minimum of three times per week, adhering to a 100% vegan, 80% live food diet, and no drug or alcohol use.

Housing is provided in our dormitory, adjacent to our sustainable, veganic production garden and the Unity Room. You’ll need to bring your own bedding and toiletries. The dorms feature shared rooms with bunk-style bedding. Three bathrooms and showers are available for 24-hour use. A washer and dryer are provided for your convenience. The communal area has a refrigerator, sinks and counter space.

All apprentices are expected to contribute to the cleaning and upkeep of the dormitories. Weekly chores are designated to each apprentice on a rotating basis. Chores are expected to be completed regularly and thoroughly.

Apprentices receive all meals at the Tree of Life Cafe free of charge. This is some of the healthiest, most delicious food on the planet. Every meal is guaranteed 100% organic, vegan, live, and prepared with love in accordance with the principles outlined in Spiritual Nutrition, Conscious Eating, Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine, and There Is a Cure for Diabetes. You also have access to unlimited wheatgrass juice from our sprout-house (aside from our Spiritual Fasting Programs each year where wheatgrass is reserved for our fasting guests), as well as free access to our chlorine-free hot tubs, chlorine-free swimming pool, far-infrared sauna, sun decks, labyrinth, and spacious grounds. All apprentices have free access to Tri-yoga and qigong classes, as well as the evening spiritual programs and monthly inipis (space allowing).

Prospective apprentices can request more information and begin the application process by filling out the form below.

Program Details

Tuition And Fees


  • includes $50 application fee
  • includes room and board for length of program
  • includes all educational experiences during the program

Program Dates

April 7, 2016 – September 29, 2016

September 30, 2016 – March 26, 2017