SIMPLE GIFTS FARM APPRENTICE POSITION for 2018 – AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS
Simple Gifts Farm is a small, diverse market farm located in Western Massachusetts. We run a 250-member CSA program and were 18-year members of the Amherst Farmer’s Market. In 2017, we opened a full-service farmstand on-site to converge our CSA and retail marketing efforts. While vegetables are our main crop, we integrate livestock into our production system to build soil fertility and to produce meat and eggs.
We lease a total of 30 acres from North Amherst Community Farm (NACF), a nonprofit formed by a coalition of passionate farm neighbors who own the land and have preserved it in perpetuity for farming. NACF selected us as farm tenants to ensure that the land remains an organic farm, a wildlife corridor, and a place for local residents to enjoy nature and walking trails. We run the farm as an ecological unit, working to improve the health of micro and macro-organisms alike, and connecting our CSA members and neighbors with their local food supply. We also pride ourselves on being a working educational farm by offering an immersive organic farming apprenticeship program.
We devote 18 of our acres to vegetable production, 5 to forage crops, and the rest to more permanent pasture. Much of our vegetable production is mechanized, though most of the harvesting occurs by hand. We have four season-extension hoophouses and three greenhouses heated by wood pellets and propane, which allow us to provide a winter CSA share and sell fresh greens at local winter farmer’s markets.
Simple Gifts Farm Apprenticeship Description
We are seeking three motivated, task-oriented, dedicated and fun individuals to apprentice at Simple Gifts Farm for the 2017 season (April 1 – Thanksgiving). Candidates must have a year of farm or other outdoor work experience and must be able to demonstrate an passionate interest in farming and agriculture. Our apprentice positions are physically and mentally demanding, but also provide the opportunities for long-term employment and farm management training. Strong apprentices are highly encouraged to continue through the winter and on for a second season, and we draw our management staff primarily from people who have completed the apprentice program.
The work week consists of approximately 50 hours, with 9-hour weekdays, and rotating Saturday farmstand days and weekend chore duties. We start work as early as 6AM, especially during the heat of the summer. Work outside of normal work hours will be required for some projects, weekend greenhouse and livestock chores, and staffing the farmstand.
Housing at Simple Gifts Farm is provided onsite in an historic farmhouse. Our farm is located in Amherst, MA, within walking distance from conservation land, a swimming pond, restaurants and other businesses. Downtown Amherst is an easy bike or bus ride away and hosts a plethora of cultural activities. Apprentices will be responsible for whatever food they need in addition to free vegetables produced at the farm. Farm meat and eggs are available at a reduced price, along with numerous local food products we stock in our farmstand.
Apprentices receive a $750/month stipend. Worker’s compensation is provided; health insurance is available through the Massachusetts state program. A higher stipend is negotiable for applicants with more than one full season’s prior farm experience.
The Simple Gifts Farm apprenticeship is best viewed as a hands-on, work-training program, rather than an exclusively “educational” experience. Apprentices are trained on tractor work, daily livestock and greenhouse chores, and planting, weeding, harvesting and marketing vegetables. Apprentices will find that they gain the most experience by showing initiative, attention to detail, good work ethic and the ability to ask for help. Strong communication skills are vital to thriving within a small hardworking group.
While apprentices are exposed to a diverse array of farm tasks, they are also required to take responsibility for one, or more, of the following Concentration areas:
Livestock: will assist our Livestock Manager in the rotation of cows, pigs and chickens on a regular basis. This person will have particular exposure to livestock care, moving animals and electric fence, grazing management, meat marketing, and record keeping.
Crop Production: will work with our Crop Production Manager and Farm Managers on field production of vegetable crops. This person will be responsible for tractor cultivation of crops, crop health and fertility, greenhouse seeding and management, and record keeping. He or she will also take some responsibility for management of harvest, wash and pack activities in conjunction with the Harvest Manager.
Mechanical: will work with our Farm Managers to take responsibility for repair and maintenance of equipment, including tractors and farm machinery, plumbing and electricals, construction and carpentry, and record keeping.
Marketing: will work with the Marketing Manager to enhance the farm’s marketing efforts and social media presence. This will include working on displays in the farmstand, updating Facebook and Instagram accounts, planning and coordinating community events, monitoring and management of our Pick-Your-Own crops, communication with the public, and record keeping.
We are members of the New England CRAFT program, which brings apprentices to nearby farms for farm visits on a biweekly basis.
Compensation: PAID: $750/month stipend
How to apply for the Simple Gifts Farm Apprenticeship:
Subject: Apprenticeship 2018 Application
Positions will be filled on a rolling basis. Please send a resume, list of three work references, and a cover letter with your top three concentration areas, in order of preference. We will contact candidates by phone or email to arrange an interview. Farm visits and working interviews are strongly recommended.
To learn more about farming jobs and internships or to post an opportunity on beginningfarmers.org, go to: http://www.beginningfarmers.org/internship-and-employment-opportunities/