Posted: Mon, January 6, 2020

Boiling Springs job

Email: nelsonw@dickinson.edu

Goal: The objective of the College Farm Apprenticeship is to prepare recent graduates for leadership positions in farming, food systems, or sustainability related careers. We aim to provide apprentices with the skills, experience, and knowledge needed to advance toward management roles whether on a production farm or within sustainable food systems initiatives. The experience is also applicable should apprentices choose to return to academic studies or seek other employment related to food, sustainability, and education.

Work Environment & Program Structure: The majority of farm apprenticeship training is hands-on, supplemented by educational sessions, field trips, and optional readings. During the summer months, apprentices will be part of a team made up of student employees, full-time farm staff, and fellow apprentices. Apprentices will be asked to take the lead on work assignments, as well as work as a team member. When classes resume in the fall, apprentices will take much more of a leadership role on the farm, leading students and volunteers on tasks and work projects.

This goal of this program is to equip apprentices with the knowledge and skills to do their work well, and to help them progress in their roles as leaders. At times this will require the farm managers to provide constructive feedback. We value open communication and request that applicants be receptive to the idea of receiving feedback in an effort to improve upon their work and overall experience. Communication happens in both directions – managers will work to develop a respectful relationship where apprentices feel comfortable expressing their needs and feelings pertaining to all happenings on the farm as well.

Work ethic and the culture of the Dickinson Farm: Success in any business, but especially agriculture, is dependent on hustle, efficient workflow, and attention to detail from all participants. The farm management team love the work they do and find beauty and joy on the farm nearly every day, yet they have learned through experience that achieving good harvests and a healthy agroecosystem requires constantly pushing themselves to be faster, smarter and more organized. Farmers do not sleep well at night if the crops and livestock are not properly cared for in a timely fashion. The Dickinson College Farm sets ambitious goals for vegetable and livestock production and health, as well as for a diversity of education and outreach programming. Meeting these goals will require all team members to pay attention to details, think about efficiency of movement, and push themselves to develop a fast pace in repetitive tasks. Apprentice candidates should be prepared to be pushed to develop their speed as a core skill set that will benefit them in any future employment. Everyone can all learn to work like a successful professional farmer if they approach the role with an open mind and a positive attitude. Since apprentices play an important role in sharing the culture of hustle and efficiency with students and volunteers on the farm, this will be a recurring theme in the apprentice training program throughout the season. We hope apprentices will embrace this mentality as part of the fun of “winning” at the game of farming.

Apprentices will be encouraged to participate in group-text communications and read weekly job lists shared online. These forums help inform the goals of the day and week plus allow opportunities to discuss needs or concerns.
Additional study through reading and research on your own time is encouraged but not required. The farm has an extensive library of useful farming books on many topics that will be available upon request.

Work Responsibilities: Each apprentice will be assigned an area(s) of responsibility at the farm in addition to the day to day workload. These responsibilities are designed to give each apprentice “ownership” of a particular aspect of the farm operation. Some of the responsibilities require daily attention while others need only weekly oversight though continual attention to detail remains essential. Examples of focused areas of responsibility for apprentices include livestock management, irrigation, crew leaders/harvest leader, farmers’ market manager, machine operations, biofuels, education assistant, foodservice events, and compost oversight.

Work Requirements: The basic “work and learn” day is from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday thru Friday, with one hour for lunch (times may adjust seasonally or to accommodate weather). Each Monday afternoon in the summer, apprentices join student employees for a farm meeting and educational program. On occasion, apprentices may be invited to lead an educational program. A separate meeting between apprentices and managers will occur each week to go over farm to-do lists, provide management training and discuss any other pertinent matters.

Weekends and evenings: Some farm responsibilities occur on weekends or require work outside of the normal 7:30-4:30 M-F work week. These include daily livestock care, irrigation during the dry season, greenhouse management, farmers’ market, and food service events (Pizza on the Plaza, GATHER pop-up restaurant, etc.). All apprentices will be asked to share weekend responsibilities with the farm managers on a rotating basis. The farm has a small budget for overtime hours (paid at $13.50 per hour after 40 hours per week). Weekend or evening work can also be traded for time off during the normal work week to accommodate doctors’ appointments, long weekends or other personal needs. Overtime and time-swaps must be pre-approved by the farm director.
Apprentices can expect to be exposed to ongoing experimental and investigative projects at the farm, including insect scouting, toad research, and innovative farm systems management. This, in addition to assisting, and at times leading educational outreach events and public tours.

Expectations: An underlying goal of the Apprenticeship Program is to allow for opportunities that build skillsets and confidence through hands-on learning. We will do our best to facilitate chances for learning both on and off the College Farm. Off-farm activities will include occasional fieldtrips during the paid work week, as well as optional social or educational visits to other farms during evening or weekend hours. Past apprentices have commented that they gained a well-rounded experience by proactively connecting with other farmers outside of the regular work week – these activities are optional but encouraged so long as apprentices maintain the stamina needed to complete their core roles on the College Farm. The Apprenticeship Program is also a chance to live and work on a farm – witnessing the seasonal transitions and other discoveries of place-based living that can only been experienced through on-site residency. By living on the farm, this program aims to cultivate a sense of community among the farm residents.

Compensation Package: In addition to earning an hourly pay wage, apprentices are provided housing in one of the farm’s yurts which are off the grid and fully furnished. Apprentices will share a kitchen, common room, and bathroom facility. Food raised on the farm is up for grabs to our apprentices, including free produce and discounted access to retail items such as meat and eggs from the farm.

Available Positions & Time Frame: Apprentice positions begin in mid to late May and end in late November. Once the season is up and running, each apprentice is allowed one week of unpaid vacation to be scheduled over the summer, as well as the occasional long weekend when personal needs arise and the farm schedule permits.

Please visit http://blogs.dickinson.edu/farm/apprentices/ for an application. Applications are due no later than February 23, 2020.