Organic Farm Internship in Northern California

LupinsTownship Valley Farm has an internship available for 2014. Township Valley is an organic (soon to be certified) family farm located on 20 acres in the oak covered Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California in the rural community of Browns Valley. It’s located between Grass Valley and Marysville/Yuba City with Sacramento being about an hour away. It’s beautiful and peaceful there but never boring. The owners moved here to begin farming late in 2011 and are going into their third planting season. There are four permanent residents, but only two whose attentions are fully devoted to farming. Kim and Martin left the corporate world in order to connect with land and grow excellent food. Ben (son) has recently started a commercial craft brewery in Marysville and is the coordinator of the hop yard. Brett (daughter) divides her time between farming and taking classes locally. They are not yet able to employ any other workers. hops growingCurrently they have about 2 of their acres in production with primary crops of basil, hops, and cut flowers with a small culinary garden. This season they also have plans and infrastructure for an extensive and diverse homestead garden and a large citrus orchard. Another professional, organic farmer will also be growing melons, chard, and kale on an acre of the farm this season. There are strawberry beds and cane berries in place as well as six “mowing” sheep and about 20 laying hens. They also produce two varieties of fresh pesto that they sell commercially and the brewery produces craft beer for local bars and restaurants. These are both areas we’re hoping to expand rapidly. About 6 months out of the year they irrigate with well water, while during the remaining months they depend on irrigation district water that also provides a pleasant seasonal creek running through the property into their large pond. Click "read more" below for details about the the internship and how to apply.

The Intern Experience:
Start date options are flexible. They ask for a 2-week minimum stay (trial period). Longer-term stays provided a better experience and will be discussed after the initial couple weeks.

Although appreciated, no prior farming experience is required. They simply ask for a genuine desire to learn about organic farming and food production through your experience in a hands-on, get-dirty setting, along with the willingness to give a full-hearted effort. They wish the intern to benefit more than the farm. However, farming is hard work, and they expect all participants to approach this experience with professionalism; arriving on time, well-rested, and energetic. They primarily want this experience to be educational and satisfying and hope that you will walk away with an extensive set of skills that would allow you to pursue future farming interests. In addition to the variety of daily responsibilities needing to be done by the hands on deck, there are always unique projects in progress. They are also willing to support additional special projects their guests may be personally interested in tackling. They are also willing to adjust this experience to fit specific requirements for educational/university internship credit.

As a fairly new farm and being relatively new to farming themselves they are always learning and discovering by doing. If you are interested in digging in with them, learning how to farm, gaining satisfaction from a good effort and a simpler life in these beautiful hills, they invite you to contact them and complete the questionnaire below.

Opportunities on the farm are varied and include all aspects of the growing process including: Crop planning, soil and compost building, greenhouse tasks, seed sowing, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, packing, deliveries, etc. Other aspects include food (pesto) product production/packaging, craft beer brewing, tractor driving, welding, canning/jarring, fruit drying, various farm infrastructure construction/maintenance (irrigation, fencing, etc.), sheep (6) and chicken (~20) caretaking, vermi/worm composting, dinner preparation/ cleanup, and more. They also like to keep their spirits up with some good fun such as outdoor movie nights, Yuba River outings, social events, day trips, etc.

Of course, they emphasize a hands-on approach to your farm education. You will be given the chance to manage the operation of certain crops or projects on the farm. They have weekly or bi-weekly meetings where they will take a look at the logistics of upcoming weeks in detail. You will get to experience all phases of the operation.

Interns commit to approximately 30-hours of training per week that are generally structured as: Monday through Friday with about 6 hour days. Days generally start around 8am, but on large harvest days they begin at dawn. During the hot summer months there will be a large break in the middle of the day.

Additionally, during your stay, a variety of educational materials will be provided to enhance your learning experience. These include books, magazines, and internet resources on areas of relevance.

A good attitude is the most important requisite. An ideal intern would be enthusiastic, positive, flexible, reliable, humble, enjoy working independently and as part of a team, possess physical stamina, strong communication skills, and be passionate about organic farming. You must be able to tolerate hot weather (they do get many days in the 100’s), practice sometimes tedious or repetitive tasks, and have the ability to lift up to 50 pounds at a time, as well as bend, twist, kneel, etc. An easygoing personality helps. Tolerance and sensitivity can go a long way to yielding a good experience for all involved on the farm. Be open to learning in all ways, even about the basics.

A separate but attached part of the house has been modified into a “studio” that accommodates 2 to 3 people. These are possibly co-ed accommodations. There is a bathroom with a shower, and a basic kitchenette provided where you may prepare breakfasts and lunches. You can only eat what you’ve grown… Just kidding! You can have all the farm food you like and we’ll supplement with the grains, staples, and other food as needed. Dinners are communal Mon-Fri. Vegetarian options will be available. There are also some areas to camp on the property. The studio is a shared space. All occupants are expected to share responsibilities and clean up after themselves.

Communal farm dinners are on the patio or in their house. They have a rotating cooking schedule and sharing in cooking duties is encouraged.

Arrangements can be made for pick up and drop off at local bus stations or the Sacramento Airport.

Please no prejudice, illegal drugs, tobacco use, or pets. The minimum age requirement is 18 years old.

The Law/Note from TVF:
This experience is structured (more than most large company internships) to comply with the legal guidelines differentiating employment versus legal, unpaid internships. In any case we must tell you:

Work that you do on the farm will be similar to that which you would otherwise perform in a vocational school or program and primarily for the benefit yourself, rather than the farm. We are new, small and not profitable yet, therefore interns will not displace any regular employees because we absolutely can’t afford them at this stage in our development. Additionally, this being an educational program for interns, the farm is not deriving any immediate advantage from the work of the interns and in fact, will be impeded to an extent by the presence of interns. You will not be guaranteed a paying job at the conclusion of your intern period and in agreeing to participate you clearly understand that you are not entitled to wages or employment benefits for your work time. All of the work you will be performing will be an essential part of your educational curriculum and future career goals. The work experiences we will provide will surely be general enough so that it prepares you for work in any similar business, rather than being so specialized that it only qualifies you for a job with a particular employer. Lastly the screening process we are using for this internship is completely different that one we will use to hire employees in the future. And again, we are obligated to clearly indicate that you will not be paid in the form of money for work completed during your internship.

Whew! Sorry for the formality. If you’re curious why we need to state this upfront and structure the experience so particularly we encourage you to do your own research on volunteer/internship/labor laws and learn about one of the struggles facing small farms throughout the US. Thanks from TVF.

Please let the farm know if you have any questions and return the filled in questionnaire (below) to!


Interest Questionnaire 

Please answer the following and send them to If you answer these questions they will get in touch with you soon.

1. Full Name / Age / Address / Phone / Email

2. References: Please provide a reference, preferably previous employer/non-relation, who can vouch for the quality of your work skills, reliability, and honesty. Include their names, where you worked for them, how long you were in their employ, and a brief description of your responsibilities. Please list their phone number and a good time to reach them.

3. When are you available to start and how long would you potentially like to stay? Our minimum requirement is two weeks, but preferably longer as you cannot get a thorough experience without participating in the changing stages of farm life. Also, taking on and training interns is a commitment for the farm and can sometimes even impede progress before an intern has grasped certain skills. Can you stay the entire season (March-September)? If applicable, explain possible absences.

4. Please describe your motivation for being an intern at the farm. Include what you’re looking to get from this experience. Are there any projects you’re especially interested in?

5. What draws you to our farm in particular?

6. What have you been up to most recently (e.g. school, traveling, places of employment, etc.)?

7. Have you ever had experience working on a farm or doing similar tasks (nursery, gardening, etc)? Please describe.

8. Please list any other skills you have which might be applicable to this position including experience with construction/machinery, produce sales, retail sales, cooking, writing, animal care, gardening, horticulture, etc. These could also be character skills.

9. This environment requires that you occasionally lift items weighing around 50 lbs and participate in long, physical days. The summer months can get extremely hot. Do you have any conditions that may impede your ability to complete these tasks?

10. Do you have any other special health considerations or medical conditions (e.g. allergies)?

11. Have you ever lived in a community or group before? If so, what did/didn’t you like about it?

12. Please describe any other interests or skills.

TVF looks forward to hearing from you!

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