Sustainable Farm Job in Lancaster Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania FarmJob: Experienced Farmhand at Sweet Stem Farm in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, 2012 Sweet Stem Farm is a small sustainable farm near Ephrata, Pennsylvania specializing in humanely raised pork, beef, and lamb. They are a “high-touch” farm committed to giving an extra degree of care and attention to their animals. They have developed numerous innovative techniques for keeping their animals comfortable and productive on a very small land base. They direct market everything they raise, mostly in and around Philadelphia. They sell their pork and lamb to several large customers including Whole Foods Market and hope to begin selling to Chipotle Mexican Grill in early 2012. They also sell directly to customers through an online store. They have made appearances in Bon Appetit magazine and in the 2011 documentary “American Meat”, as well as being included in the PBS series e2, which features Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food”. As their business evolves and their market grows, they’ve developed the need for seasoned farm help, ready to go to work with minimal training, particularly to help cover daily chores Fridays through Tuesdays. They are a “high-touch” farm, so you will work hands on with the pigs, sheep and cattle. If you are familiar with farm life, you know that daily duties will vary, but jobs include caring for their animals, pastures, crops, and maintaining and operating our facilities and equipment. The person who fills this position will work closely with the farm owners, farm foreman, and interns to keep operations running smoothly, especially during the transitions from weekday to weekend routines. You need to be self-motivated, since there may not always be someone to direct everything you do. This position is perfect for someone who likes to work hard and is interested in sustainable agriculture and passionate about animal welfare. Livestock experience is not required. Starting wage: $15-18/hr. depending on your capabilities. To learn about job requirements and how to apply click "read more" below.

Time commitment: They are looking for someone that will be available every Friday through Tuesday. The animals don’t stop needing care on weekends/holidays, so they need a high level of commitment. Farm life can mean variable hours on your workdays (approximately 5-18 hrs. depending on the season, but 8-12 hr. days are most common) and working in all kinds of weather. For most of the year (April through November), the work schedule will be 5 days a week but they will sometimes need extra days during the busiest weeks, such as during lambing season and intense phases of crop production. Lambing requires the most intensive time commitment for about 4 weeks in April and May. There may also be weeks where the work is slower, especially from January through March. During the winter months they may only need help 4 days a week. In the slower parts of the year, Saturdays and Sundays are chores only. During the busy season, Sundays are usually chores only (except during lambing season). Wednesdays and Thursdays will be your regular days off unless they need extra help. During the busy season, and on busy days during the slow season, the long hours require a dedication to the job and a commitment to working as long as needed. Outside interests must take a back seat to the farm’s requirements.Requirements/Responsibilities: This position requires a person that is dedicated to the daily rhythms, chores, and care of our animals. This means, in part, that they don’t have a set schedule but work each day according to weather conditions and many other factors. Great attention is given to stockmanship, identifying potential problems before they happen, and working together as a team to creatively solve issues.

Experience with careful and efficient farm machinery operation are required for doing the farmhand job and for helping train the interns. They build a lot of their own livestock equipment and need someone with diverse carpentry and metal working skills to help build new equipment and modify existing equipment as needed. They also own and operate fairly old tractors (some over forty years old) and other machinery and need someone who can do regular maintenance and minor repairs. Once a good understanding of the farm routine is gained, the farmhand will help lead interns in completion of animal chores, field work and many other projects.

Daily Tasks (will include but are not limited to): Most days will include scraping manure, loading/feeding hay, checking water, making and checking pig feed, and bedding the animals. They practice rotational grazing and often need fences set up and taken down as they move animals from pasture to pasture. They also have a number of portable feeders and shelters that are moved regularly. You will need to be able to complete these tasks efficiently and safely, and guide interns in developing similar proficiency.

Ideally the right person will:
Be detail and task oriented.
Be accustomed to farming chores and be willing to work through busy seasons and slower seasons.
Have a flexible schedule outside of work to accommodate variable hours as they change by season.
Be organized, orderly, and help improve organizational systems, such as keeping tools and buildings neat and ready for use at any time.
Have a general understanding and concern for animal care and welfare.
Have some carpentry and mechanical skills.
Have a lot of experience safely operating farm machinery of all kinds.
Have a working knowledge of 12 volt electrical systems.
Be naturally observant and pick up on the finer points of animal care and feeding, machinery, operation and maintenance.
Be situationally aware, positive and self-motivated.
Be able to lift at least 100 lbs. and be on your feet for long hours.
Be capable of remembering or writing down detailed instructions.
Be competent and willing to document tasks and use of time.
Have a valid driver’s license.
Excel at taking initiative and getting routine things done without needing to re-discuss basic tasks.
Seek direction and consult with us on non-routine tasks.
Be interested in why they do things the way they do and help us refine their production practices while keeping in mind that they have tried a number of approaches and have in place a basic framework that they intend to stick with.
Have interpersonal skills allowing you to work well with a variety of other people and take the lead when working with interns.

Let them know if you:
Have a CDL
Have a touch of perfectionism
Please send the following to
A description of your work experiences and why you want to join Sweet Stem Farm. Also explain why you think you would be a good fit for the job. Reply to If they are interested in giving you further consideration, they will send a questionnaire.

1 Comment on Sustainable Farm Job in Lancaster Pennsylvania

  1. I would like to get more information on the listed job. I have been into dairy farming for about 13 years. I ran the equipment side of the operation. The farm was sold a few years ago. I would like to get back to the work that I love.

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