Mahonia Gardens 5-month 2016 Farm Apprenticeship in Sisters, Oregon
POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED FOR 2016Compensation: $400/month stipend, food and rustic accommodation (see info for details) Term: May through September 2016 Hours: 25 hours/week Application deadline: March 1 Thank you for your interest in apprenticing at Mahonia Gardens. Please take the following agreement into consideration. If you would like to apply, please provide a resume and a written description of your interest and experience in farming and why you want to apprentice with us. About Mahonia Gardens Mahonia Gardens is an intensive market garden in Sisters, Oregon, dedicated to growing quality produce. The project began in the spring of 2013 and it has been growing slowly since. They lease a ¾ acre plot on a friend’s property and live in town, only about ½ mile away. At Mahonia Gardens, they primarily cultivate in 4’-wide intensive, permanent beds resembling the French-Intensive or Bio-Intensive styles of Alan Chadwick or John Jeavons. Most labor on the farm is done by hand, using broadforks and digging forks to create and maintain beds. Though they occasionally use a small rototiller, they are gradually working toward a no-till system. While they are not certified organic, they use absolutely no harmful chemicals in their production—no pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. To amend their sandy soil, they utilize the abundantly available horse manure from local ranches, and some steer manure. They also make compost and buy it when necessary, and employ some bagged organic amendments. They have education in Permaculture and consider the whole system design in all their decision-making. They are not purists of any particular method or style- they’re always learning, always trying new things, always questioning themselves and being open to the unknown. 2016 will be their fourth season as a market farm. Last year they sold at two farmers markets and provided 20 members with CSA shares. This year they plan to double the CSA program and open a farm stand at their house, which is in downtown Sisters. They grow around 40 vegetable crops—all the usual suspects for market and CSA. They also grow an abundance of herbs, perennials and flowers for pollinator habitat and medicine. They have two beehives and intend to grow their bee operation. Some of their other visions include expanding our compost production, growing more seed crops, growing mushrooms, and producing more value-added products. About Sisters Sisters is a small town, serving a community of about 5,000 people. It is situated at the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains, 20 miles from Bend (pop. ~90,000), 30 miles from Smith Rock, and 3 hours from Portland. The Sisters community is rich with music and art, with a budding food culture. Central Oregon is a paradise for the outdoors person. Mountain biking and hiking, climbing, lakes and rivers abound, all within a short distance from Sisters. Tourism drives the local economy, and summertime gets really busy for everyone. If you are interested in part-time work outside of the farm, there is plenty of seasonal hiring for summer at restaurants, etc. The climate in Central Oregon is unique and challenging. This is not the lush Oregon that so many people expect—but a high-desert climate. It is DRY. The frost-free period is extremely short, and nighttime temperatures can dip into the 30’s at any time during the summer, while the daytime temps can get into the 100’s. They utilize a great deal of frost-protection cloth from April through June, and again usually in September. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other long-season tender crops are grown exclusively in their hoophouse. About the Farmers Carys and Benji, now each 28 years old, met in college in Southern Oregon. Having already established a love for organic gardening and permaculture, they bonded quickly and began gardening together and working on various farms. After completing apprenticeships in 2012 in Sonoma County, California, the two decided to move back to Benji’s hometown of Sisters to start Mahonia Gardens. Aside from farming, the two love to hike, swim, practice yoga and enjoy live music in the evenings. Carys teaches yoga and is a skilled carpenter, and Benji works as a semi-professional musician throughout the year. Apprentice Responsibilities Your apprenticing period will begin May 2nd and end September 30th 2016. During these months, you will be asked to do a variety of tasks that may include greenhouse, field work, nursery work, farmer’s market and CSA help etc. Based on your interests there are many areas where you can have more responsibility. Expect the work to be physically and mentally demanding and the conditions to vary. They work in a very hot and dry environment with temperatures up to 105 and generally in direct sun. They work with headaches, colds, and body aches. While you will not be pushed beyond your physical ability, they hope that you enter this experience in good overall health and understand the physical trials of farming. The first two weeks will be considered a trial period and any specific needs or disabilities should be disclosed at this time. They are looking for someone who has the following qualities:
- Mindfulness: of self, the people around you, the environment, your actions and reactions.
- Practiced communication skills: confrontation is necessary in this close-contact working environment- they need to be able to talk openly about how they want things to be done, and they need you to tell them when something is not working for you.
- Self-motivation and work ethic: they will expect you to be observant, notice what needs to be done and do it without being told.
- Flexibility: plans change, based on weather, opportunities, or mishaps, and you all just gotta roll with it.
- Propagation: seeding/planting/transplanting/cuttings
- Weed management
- Farm maintenance
- Marketing: either our CSA program, our farmer’s market, or our restaurants sales
- Care of chickens
- Seed saving
- Processing value added product: herbal tea blends, sauerkraut and other pickling, canned or dried tomatoes, etc.