Fruit and Vegetable Production Jobs at North Star Orchard in Pennsylvania – 2017
North Star Orchard is a 20-acre farm in southeastern PA, 1 hour west of Philadelphia. Our focus is on unique and heritage varieties of fruit (over 300 varieties of apples!) and a wide selection of vegetables. We operate a 9-year-old vegetable CSA, and a large fruit CSA (700 members), which has been in operation for 14 years. We sell everything else retail at producer-only farmers’ markets and will be opening an on-the-farm market this coming year (2017). We grow non-certified organically-grown vegetables on 5 acres and IPM tree fruit on about 12 acres. We also have an extensive, multi-year apple breeding program and have been developing new varieties of certain vegetables as well. The farm is owned and operated by Ike and Lisa Kerschner, who live and work on the property. For more information, visit www.northstarorchard.com
Fruit and Vegetable Production Jobs: Positions at North Star are not internships, but employment for a reasonable wage. There are certainly opportunities to learn while working, especially for motivated individuals who are willing to read industry-specific material, ask questions of the farm owners, and attend area grower-specific meetings. Many of our helpers have gone on to further education in sustainable topics/agriculture or to their own farming projects. All positions start in spring and continue until sometime in November, and may have the potential for long-term and year-’round employment for the right people.
Regular on-farm work hours are M-F from 7AM to 3:30PM. Work schedules may vary somewhat depending on position and whether or not a helper works at a weekend farmers’ market, etc. All helpers may be required to work from time to time on any project on the farm, be it gardening, orcharding, grounds maintenance, fruit thinning, fruit/vegetable breeding projects, CSA & market prep, or helping with special building projects. Full-time helpers should be willing to help at a weekend farmers’ market in fall.
Positions available for 2017 include:
1. TWO full-season FT openings for farming positions: help in the garden and/or orchard (depending on skills and interests) with tasks such as planting, culture, harvest, packaging, and marketing/delivery. No experience required, but you must be able to show/explain a strong desire to farm and/or related educational background.
2. ONE or more FT/PT openings focused on marketing, customer relations, PR, events, and office management: help develop and run the farm store and related events. Work on marketing via social media and press contacts, customer connections and orders, and ‘backend’ tasks such as submitting payroll and market planning. Some farmwork will be required from time to time, especially for those working in winter or spring. Experience or education related to marketing/customer service tasks is preferred. Farmwork experience not necessary.
1.Be highly motivated, efficient, and detail-oriented with strong work ethics and the ability to work well with both staff and customers.
2. Be physically fit: able to repeatedly lift 40-50 pounds, climb a short ladder on a frequent basis on orchard work days, squat and bend repeatedly on garden work days, and work in all weather conditions. (All employees, regardless of specific role, may have to help in various tasks all around the farm, depending on need)
3. Have a license with a good driving record.
4. Supply their own work boots, clothing, gloves, and sunscreen.
5. Not smoke or chew tobacco on the farm premises.
Pay and Benefits for fruit and vegetable production jobs:
1. Most helpers start at $10/hr, with some exceptions for those coming with particular skills. Pay raises are based on performance, taking on more responsibility, and staying on from year to year.
2. All helpers working more than 20 hours a week receive a ½ price discount on first-quality produce and free second-quality produce. Helpers working under 20 hours a week receive a 20% discount on first-quality produce.
3. On-farm shared housing in a large house or two bedroom apartment at reasonable rent is a possibility if there is space available. Rent includes heat, A/C, trash, water, and wifi.
4. 401(k) plan with matching employer contributions is available for helpers who work a minimum of 1000 hours and are employed for at least a year.
5. Long-term disability coverage is provided for full-time helpers who work at NSO for a year or more.