As an apprentice on Swallowtail Farm you will have the opportunity to learn about small scale, ecologically aware farming on a nascent family farm. We are not certified organic, but we do not use any chemicals or synthetic substances on our food or our fields. We are aspiring toward biodynamic; we have a philosophy that is focused on the holistic nature of farming and aim to create harmony within our farm. By no means are apprenticeships easy. They require hard work and long hours in the field, but offer the important benefit of being a part of the inner workings of the farm. The focus of our apprenticeship program is to work alongside folks with an earnest desire to learn about farming. Ideal candidates are self-motivated and looking for agricultural training with a community purpose.
The main responsibility of apprentices will be to master planting, harvesting, processing and marketing of produce for CSA, wholesale & Market sales.
About The Farm:
Swallowtail Farm is a small diversified family farm located 20 miles NW of Gainesville Florida. We raise organically grown vegetables on a seven acre plot on a 30 acre farm for a 200 member CSA, farmers markets, local restaurants, and farm to table dinners. We also grow cut flowers, arranged with love by Mariana for bouquets, events and wedding. We raise a flock of laying hens,bee hives, katahdin/gulf coast cross ewes, heritage breed hogs, jersey & dexter milk cows, and two livestock guard dogs/love bug lap dogs. Our goal is to be as diverse and sustainable as possible and we are constantly striving to meet these ends. We are just getting started with a small scale dairy operation. We are milking, making cheese and starting a small dairy CSA. CSA is the pumping heart of our farm and the community we create around it is our life blood. We love our CSA people.
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We grow amazing quality, stunningly beautiful food for ourselves and our people. In our five years of existence we have grown from a 30 member CSA to a 230 member CSA! Wowza. With each new season we are growing by leaps and bounds and it is a beautiful and challenging ride. We are hard-working folks who know how to have a good time. We love and respect one another unconditionally. We cook amazing meals and truly take care of each other in every way we can. We have seemingly endless amounts of ambition and are certainly doing our very best at every turn. We love our work, feel tons of passion for it, and don’t want to be doing anything else. Our farm is full of good vibes, great intention and soul.
Space for growth:
We are a young farm and are still building our systems and infrastructure. Getting these things fully up and running is an endless process! We do our very best to keep organized, but we just aren’t sometimes. There are moments when we are figuring it out as we go along. We are still learning, or course! Our goals are to be a holistic farm with no outside inputs and we are working diligently to get there. This vision is not fully realized, however. We can promise to do our best and to move the farm forward with integrity. We can’t promise to know it all.
Apprenticeships at Swallowtail:
At Swallowtail Farm, apprentices will share responsibility in all aspects of the farm. We are a young farm with young farmers, and generally we become a very tight knit crew. We want our apprentices to be solving the farming puzzle right along with us so that we can all grow and learn from each other! That said, you must be able to take direction well and complete tasks as they are given to you. We are open to hearing suggestions on ways to change systems, but not during the task itself. Ultimately your job as an apprentice is to carry out the work that has been assigned to you. Farming is hard work and requires a thirst for learning and getting your hands dirty. A full season commitment to a farm is serious. You will need to be physically fit and capable of working long hours in the heat of the day alongside the farmers and your fellow apprentices. Although we appreciate our leisure time, we expect everyone to keep a fast pace when working and contribute consistently day after day. The labor involved in farming is mentally and physically demanding, but is also incredibly rewarding and fun. Please consider the commitment before applying.
We are looking for people (individuals, couples, small families depending on the situation) with a sincere interest in agriculture and the desire to farm or homestead in the future. Applicants should be self-motivated, reliable, responsible, communicative, and committed. Apprentices should be able to get themselves up in the morning, clean up after themselves, and take responsibility for their actions. We are looking for people who are interested in taking initiative on the farm, who are motivated by concrete results and who have good people skills. Apprentices should be able to work in all weather conditions including cold, rain and extreme heat in the summer. Apprentices will work outside daily, lift up to fifty pounds, and use their backs and shoulders regularly. Although previous farming experience is not necessary, it is important to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the farming lifestyle and all the joys and hardships that come with it. Finding a good match between farmer and apprentice is essential. We are committed to teaching and learning through doing and we want our apprentices to be equally on board.
It is important to understand that we will not under any circumstances put up with ongoing negativity, bad attitudes, disrespect or laziness. We all have bad days, but these things can’t be the norm. We want all of our apprentices, farmers and animals to be well taken care of. If an apprentice is not working in our system, we reserve the right to ask that person to please find a new gig. That said, we understand people get sick sometimes, have social lives and family obligations. We are flexible for sure and encourage folks to take care of themselves.
If you do not relate to the following, you need not apply:
~ I have an earnest interest in learning about agriculture and, if I like it, I might want to farm as my career some day.
~ I am a very flexible human. I understand that farming is a fluid and shifting business. I have no problem changing plans on a dime and thinking on my feet.
~ I am not a whiner. I have a positive attitude.
~ I value hard work, I am respectful, I am grateful, and I am kind.
Apprentices will be learning many valuable skills in their eight month journey with us!
Field work: irrigation systems, seeding, transplanting, weeding, thinning, mulching, tractor skills, frost protection, composting, intuition, record keeping, heat tolerance.
Propagation House: Seeding, record keeping, seedling love, compost teas/foliar feeds, greenhouse organization, composting
Harvest/packing: harvesting veggies/flowers, washing, sorting, packing, counting like crazy, organizational skills, bouquet making
CSA management: keeping track of CSA numbers, record keeping, communications, marketing, community building
Farmers Markets: Manning,the farmers market booth, CSA drop off distributions, setting up and breaking down tent and display, direct sales of veggies, explaining CSA to potential customers
Farm to Table Dinners: setting up, having fun, cleaning up
Life skills: Living communally, communication skills, cooking, cleaning, responsibility, empowerment, work ethic, happy fun times
Animals: Maybe included depending on interest
We rotate chores and markets weekly. Chores include things like cooking lunch & breakfast, cleaning the communal space, taking out trash etc.
Our CSA season begins in October and goes though the end of June.
Arrival - Be here by Sept 1st for farm bootcamp
Two week trial period - Your first two weeks here will be a trial period for both parties. If it’s clearly not going to work, we will ask you to leave.
Departure - Must be able to stay through the end of june
We are offering three or four full season apprentice positions on the farm. Apprentices will be working full time, five full days per week, Monday through Friday.
Weekends- Farm work doesn't stop on the weekend. It actually never ever ever stops. Expect to work a few Saturdays each month between markets and farm to table. Expect to participate in the essentials like animal chores and greenhouse watering on a rotating basis on the weekends. Some Sundays are spent cleaning up from festivals or farm dinners. If something is broken or the cow is loose on a weekend we still fix it or put it back. That said, we all need a break and there are enough of us around to spread the load and relax a bit.
Stipend- $200 per month for full season apprentices
Housing- Lodging in either a private room in the loft area of our barn or the yome( yurt-dome) on the property. There is a shared kitchen and bath in the barn.
Food- We will provide staple foods (rice, honey, sugar, flour, milk, pasta, bread, beans, coffee, tea, cheese etc.) as well as delish farm produce, eggs, dairy and meat. We eat really well around here. You won’t be left wanting.
Trade- You are welcome to trade produce for the things that you need.
Season Break Down Month to Month
August marks the beginning of our growing season so to speak. Although the days are still long and hot, we begin attempting to germinate our first cool weather greens and fall crops during this time. Most of these crops have a 50-70 day to harvest window, so we feel the need to “hurry up and wait” with these crops to strive for maximum diversity during out first week of CSA share distributions. This is also the time of year we begin sowing many of our long standing crops such as onions, and some flowers. Be prepared for long days of seeding, getting accustomed to our seeding schedule, and learning to make soil mix.
During this time we will also be preparing the fields for planting. This process includes mowing summer cover crops, spreading manure, raising beds, incorporating manure, fixing irrigation, and stale bed cultivation.
During this month there is not much harvesting, transplanting, or special events happening. This allows time for other projects and maintenance on equipment.
If all goes well, by September we will have our first transplants ready to move from the greenhouse to the field! By late September, we attempt to direct sow some of our first winter roots including carrots, beets, ant turnips if the days have cooled down a bit. This month we begin counting down the weeks and days until out first CSA distributions begin. Long days of seeding and prepping beds will continue during this month. We will also focus on developing weeding and cultivation techniques this month. There are a lot of weeds to be pulled. Be prepared!
October F2T begin?
The workload will increase this month. We will begin attending farmers markets during this month. By the second week of October, we will begin delivering our CSA shares. It’s crucial to continue accomplishing our scheduled fieldwork during this time as we shift staff off the farm to markets 4 days each week.
This month will have a heavy focus on developing familiarity with crops, mastering harvesting techniques, product standards, and building efficiency as individuals and as a team in the field. Apprentices will also begin to learn the ins and outs of how we process and store vegetables in the packing shed during this time.
Long days of seeding continue during this month.
By this time we are well into the swing of things. Seeding, weeding, bed prep, harvesting, and processing continue. We typically also have our Fall Festival this month. November also brings the threat of an early freeze, in which case frost cloth, sand bags and hoops will need to be brought out to protect crops.
During December successive sowing of winter crops continues, and early sowings of slower growing spring crops, including peppers and eggplant are also scheduled. Low temperatures are expected, and the frost cloth dance begins.
January and February are typically our coldest months. Timing plantings becomes more tricky as we do our best to manage the cold weather and still serve our CSA and markets.
February will have a similar feel to January. During this month we have a scheduled break in CSA distributions. The intention of this break is to allow us time to catch up on the bulk of our spring sowings that are scheduled for this month. Summer and winter squash, cucumbers, melons and the first rounds of sunflowers are all sown during this time. Potatoes are also planted this month. Peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes sown during December and January are stepped up.
CSA distributions resume this month. During March there is a big push to get ALL the spring crops transplanted. There is a narrow window of time to accomplish this and longer work days may be required to do so. As the days grow longer and warmer, the crops growth will accelerate as will the weed pressure.
April is possibly our busiest month of the season. It is typically our peak month in terms of diversity of crops in the field as cool season and warm season crops overlap. This makes for long and faced paced harvest days. Harvesting, processing, cultivation, planting, and bed prep continue. April is also the month of our Spring Festival.
The rhythm of work will begin to shift a bit in May. Most of our leafy green crops are no longer able to thrive in the heat and our fruiting crops and flowers begin to dominate the fields. As crops finish, beds are reclaimed and we begin preparing some areas of the field for their first summer cover crop and some fields for sweet potato planting.
The end is in sight! Our CSA distribution will officially finish the second week of June. Typically we will continue attending markets through the end of this month and offer CSA members a chance to make up pick ups.
There is much less crop diversity in the field at this time and the focus of work shifts towards putting the fields to rest.
July becomes our main time for rest and planning before it starts all over again!
Swallowtail Farm CSA
Mariana Reihm (239)822-5648
Noah Shitama (352)327-1175