Apprenticeships at Calypso Farm & Ecology Center, Alaska

Calypso Farm Apprentices: 2011 Position Description and Application Guidelines -  Accepting applications now! (3 positions available)

Terms: Seasonal, full time – 5 days/week, average 50 hours/week; Dates: April 15th – September 30th, 2011; Monthly Stipend: $250 stipend and room and board at the farm; To be filled by: Open until filled Educational Opportunities: The Farm Apprentice Program is designed to develop the practical skills and  mindset needed to pursue a lifestyle and livelihood in small-scale, organic farming.  As an apprentice, you will work with a mentor farmer to customize the program to fit your personal goals and expectations.  You will continue to meet throughout the season to ensure that your goals are being met.  This is an educational apprenticeship where the focus is to transfer knowledge and expertise farmer to farmer.  As an apprentice, you will work as part of the farming team and will have the opportunity to take on responsibility throughout the season.  You will also provide training and guidance to others as you learn yourself.  You will visit Calypso’s school garden sites several times throughout the season to assist and provide advice.  Training and discussion topics will be held regularly throughout the apprenticeship.  Topics include, but are not limited to:  Garden Planning, Managing Healthy Soils, Seed Saving, Getting Started on Your Own,  Cover Cropping and more…


Calypso Farm Apprentices are fully integrated into the farm system.  As part of the farming crew, you will be responsible for: maintaining soil fertility, preparing the fields for planting, seeding, harvesting, CSA distribution, direct marketing at Farm Stands, irrigating fields, and general farm work.

In addition to the many responsibilities associated with the production and distribution of food, farm apprentices also support the educational programs of Calypso, including farm field trips, the Schoolyard Garden Initiative, our Annual Open House and other community events.  The dynamic nature of our organization requires a strong commitment towards flexibility and a team-based work ethic.

As a Farm Apprentice, you will be expected to:

  • Work as a member of the farm crew, approximately 50 hours/week
  • Participate in all areas of farm work and record keeping
  • Maintain open and positive communication with all members of the farm crew and Calypso staff
  • Participate in regular training and discussion sessions


  • Highly motivated
  • Strong communication skills
  • Physical ability to carry out all farm related tasks
  • Serious interest in farming as a lifestyle and livelihood
  • Experience working/living communally helpful

What to expect

Adjusting to the dynamic, seasonal pace of the farm stands alone as the most challenging factor for most farm apprentices.  Alaskan summers are full of light, energy, and fun, but can also be overwhelming at times.  Farm Apprentices arrive right at the fast-paced beginning of the growing season.  As the fields thaw and drain in the spring (usually late April), we make a big push to get the beds prepped and plants moved out to the field.  This is usually the most physically demanding time of the season.  We do the vast majority of the field work by hand.  During May and early June, we often work through the day and after a dinner break, return to the fields for planting.  Our terraced, hillside farm setting provides amazing views of the Alaska Range but also requires walking up and down.

Once the fields are planted and first harvesting begins, the work week settles into more of a regular rhythm of harvest, cultivation, and field maintenance.  This is a great time to familiarize yourself with the fields and with different crop varieties.  It’s also a great time for customizing your apprenticeship to fit your goals and needs with your mentor.  The farm is a great place to expose yourself to new ideas and to get involved with those ideas that interest you. With a short growing season it is essential to work as hard and efficiently as possible.  Keep in mind this does not imply we are against fun in any way!

Living on the Farm

Housing – On-farm housing is rustic.  Farm Apprentices will each have either a large, bug-free tent on a raised wooden platform or an 8’ x 10’ seasonal cabin for sleeping.  A communal kitchen space is available for meals.  The farm does not have running water.  Clean drinking water is available at all times and a wood-fired sauna is available for bathing.  Outhouse facilities are available on-site.

Food – Calypso will provide basic food staples (grains, rice, beans, oil, spices, etc) in addition to vegetables grown on the farm.  Monday through Friday, we eat lunches together – rotating cooking chores with those interested.  Rest assured – you will eat well!

Transportation – Although a vehicle is not required for this position, the farm is located 10 miles from Fairbanks.  Public transportation is not available in our area.  Some mode of transportation, vehicle, bike, scooter, etc. is highly recommended.

Come prepared! – Although summers on the farm are often quite warm and sunny, we have been known to have some chilly, wet weather.  Come prepared with a very warm sleeping bag and other comfortable bedding, layers of warm clothing, rain gear, rain boots and warm and dry outer layers.

To Apply:

Please email or mail the information listed below to or Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, PO Box 106, Ester, AK  99725.  Please put the “Application – Farm Apprentice” in the subject heading or on the envelope.

Include the following in your application:

1) A current resume

2) Three work-related references

3) Answers to the following five questions:

Why are you interested in being a Farm Apprentice at Calypso?

Describe any relevant experience that will aid you in this position.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

Describe the role that farming plays in your future plans.

What do you hope to gain from a Farm Apprenticeship at Calypso?

We welcome and encourage questions about the position! To learn more, please contact Susan at (907) 451-0691.  We encourage phone calls, but can receive email questions as well.  Send email inquiries to with “Farm Apprentice Questions” in the subject heading.

Please note:  We do not want to turn Apprentices away based solely on the hardship of travel cost.  Travel assistance may be available.

2 Comments on Apprenticeships at Calypso Farm & Ecology Center, Alaska

  1. Oh dear,
    I believe the Calypso Farm is in Alaska rather.
    But Arkansas would be a great place for a farm with such a good name as well…
    peace yo.

    • Thanks for catching that so quickly! You’ve no doubt saved job seekers both north and south considerable confusion, and mitigated my own embarrassment.

      Mildly consoling is the irony that my mistake might have angered both the Clinton’s and the Palin’s. Having rectified it (with your help), I suppose it shall be left to some equally inept blogger to initiate the year’s first instance of bipartisan consensus.

      If I ever start an agricultural operation in Arkansas, I’ll have to call it ‘Permafrost Farm’ (or something like that).

      Thanks again,

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