Farm Apprentices Wanted in Vermont

Zinnias on the FarmTwo apprentices needed at Seedfolks Farm in East Calais, Vermont from June 1, 2015 - October 31, 2015

Farm Background: I began working on farms while attending Green Mountain College. My interest continued to grow as I apprenticed and worked on diversified farms small and large. From my first season, I knew farming was for me. The beauty, the realness and the work which yielded very tangible, delicious results drew me in. For three seasons, I teamed up with a partner to grow several acres of vegetables for a CSA, the Capital City Farmers' Market and several local wholesale accounts. We have leased land to farm on but believe the farm will grow to be a profitable, sustainable business and offer an enjoyable lifestyle. Teaching other young farmers and being there for support, because this is a hard job, is important to me. Soil fertility is the most important aspect of this work. Four of our seven acres are seeded to cover crops to help build soil. We add compost and rock dust (for remineralization) and foliar feed our seedlings. I love to mulch! Because we have sandy soil and water carries nutrients, an irrigation system was set up from an uphill pond. In the future, I hope to diversify into berries and fruit, medicinal herbs and eventually, acquire a farm. A black cat and a farm dog live alongside the flock of ducks. I enjoy being outside and growing food for our community. Market is a great social event. Off the farm I enjoy hiking, climbing, swimming and live music... but am happy improving the farm. Farm Setting: We farm a flat piece of sandy ground surrounded by many acres of woods. It's a long skinny field and among the only tillable acres on the old 250 acre farm. Currently, more cover crops are grown than cash crops. Three acres of mixed veggies are grown each year, while four acres have been in covers. There is a 30 X 72' hoophouse used for growing mainly tomatoes and a smaller house for seedlings. We have a small pole barn for covered storage as well as a new, insulated shed and wash area. There is a swimming pond on the property and many trails through the woods. The town is rural and pretty classic. There are a few general stores, swimming holes, and even a couple bars. Montpelier is just down the road. A car would be helpful by not necessary. Every Saturday, we are in Montpelier for market.

Farm Operation:

This will be my fourth season managing this farm. A diverse mix of veggies, herbs and flowers are rotated with cover crops. Tomatoes and greens are very important to the business. With the help of a 40HP John Deere, a 1950’s Farmall Cub with basket weeders for cultivation and hand tools, I grow for the Capital City Farmers’ Market, a small CSA and a few local wholesale accounts.

Work Period Detailed Explanation:

This season, we are looking for two full time apprentices who should be available June through October. Apprentices will be involved in all aspects of vegetable farming including greenhouse work, seed starting, bed preparation, amending soil, transplanting, harvest and handling produce. Throughout the season we will plant, weed, harvest, wash and sell three acres of naturally grown vegetables. The work is physically and mentally demanding but very rewarding.

Folks interested in staying for a shorter (or longer) period of time are encouraged to contact us.

Work Schedule:

Apprentices should plan to work five and a half days a week and have one full day per week off. Weekend work includes helping at market and/or greenhouse management. Hours may vary according to the season but generally we work Monday through Friday 7am-6pm with an hour break for lunch.

Trial Period Information:

All potential apprentices are asked to visit with us beforehand, if possible. There will be a two week trial period, after which all parties will meet to decide if the arrangement works for everyone.

Room and Board

We have rustic accommodations at the farm. Currently, there is a yurt and a tipi and there will soon be a rustic three season cabin. Access to hot showers and occasional house sitting amenities available. We can share some meals and, depending on the group, we can take turns preparing lunch and dinners. Vegetables make up the majority of our diet. We raise a small flock of layers for access to fresh eggs and provide some market goods. Staples (rice, beans, cornmeal) are provided. We ask that you provide your own treats like chocolate and beer.

It is expected that apprentices will be tidy and clean up after themselves. No smoking or drinking during work hours or unresponsibly, please.

Let us know if you have food allergies.

All Organic:

Because we are direct market farmers, we are not certified but do grow using organic methods and principles. Along with plenty of greens and veggie scraps, our ducks are fed organic grain.

We strive to grow nutrient dense crops which involves remineralizing soils, working to achieve optimal levels of nutrients and trace elements, inoculating seeds and a myriad of other responsibilities. Healthy food translates to healthy people and a healthy world!

Work Expectations:

The work we do is physically and mentally demanding. At any time of day we may be standing, kneeling, bending, lifting, etc. There may be hours of repeated motions or hustling to get greens out of the sun. Expect to get a good work out. The people who enjoy apprenticing on vegetable farms tend to be people who enjoy outdoor and endurance activities.

We expect apprentices to pay attention to detail. Quality of work (and crops harvested) is extremely important.

5 Topic Areas of Expertise:

Because this is a young business, there is much to learn from the situation. First of all, focus is on soil health and rotation. Other topics of learning will include how to cultivate a wide array of vegetables, direct marketing, land access and planning for a viable operation.

Instruction and Training:

I work alongside apprentices showing them the ins and outs of vegetable production, harvest, sales and storage. There will be formal and informal teaching throughout the day. Questions are always welcomed. Along with what you learn through work and questions, we will have night lessons every other week based on the topic we are covering (ie soil health, crop planning, greenhouse management, etc.).  Visiting other farms can be set up for tours and workdays. As a former apprentice, I understand the value in seeing different operations.

Nicole Duch

East Calais, VT, 05650



Best time to reach: nights

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