Middle school students who like to get their hands dirty can become apprentices at the Wakeman Town Farm, taking a role in planning, designing and planting the gardens there.

The after-school program for boys and girls in grades six through eight will be conducted most Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. at the town farm, 124 Cross Highway. It is slated to begin in February and run through late June.

Participants in the apprenticeship program will receive hand-on instruction in organic farming and gardening from seed to harvest, organizers said.

The program is led by the farm's resident steward, Michael Aitkenhead, an environmental science teacher at Staples High School and Staples 2010 teacher of the Year, the farm said in a news release.

The program is designed to teach middle school students about science, nature and the environment while engaging them in problem solving and critical thinking, the farm said in a news release.

During the spring session, students will be challenged to plan, design, prepare, and plant the farm gardens. Activities will include seed starting, garden preparation and maintenance.

Students also will help to care for farm animals -- including chickens, rabbits and bees -- and get instruction in sustainable farm practices such as composting and renewable energy.

The program costs $175.

Registration may be done by mailing a check to Wakeman Town Farm, 134 Cross Highway, Westport CT 06880. Checks should be payable to Town of Westport and have "Wakeman Town Farm" in the memo field.

For more information, call 203-557-9195 or email: wakemantownfarm@gmail.com.