INTERESTED IN AN APPRENTICESHIP ON OUR FARM? HERE’S A BIT MORE INFORMATION
CERTIFIED ORGANIC: Yes
FARM STAND: Yes
FARM TYPE: Diversified (integrating crop/livestock)
FARM BACKGROUND, FARMING EXPERIENCE, PHILOSOPHY, GOALS AND INTERESTS
We (Christine and Adam) have been married since 2003. We started our farm in 2004. Our farm grew out of our desire to grow good food for our wedding, and we caught the farm bug. So, we are in our 17th year of organic farming and our 16th year with a CSA program. It was the dream of landowners Roy Newton and Ev Grimes to bring the land back into active farming use. They supported us in starting Blue Heron Farm on their land. We are working on our dream of creating a diversified, sustainable, family farm with produce, grazing animals for fiber, grazing cows for milk and beef, poultry, apprenticeships, and eventually, as an educational/therapeutic youth farm worker program. Why educational and therapeutic? We both have a background in education, counseling, and social work (3 Masters degrees between us!). We both love to see people grow and learn. We both believe deeply that it is important for our world to have an organic, local food system, and we know working with your hands and seeing the fruits of your labor is profoundly good for the spirit. Another aspect of our farm is the attempt to make organic affordable, and to give back. We participate in NOFA’s supported CSA share program, and the senior-share programs, both of which help low income community members afford fresh, organic food. We also sell food at a reduced cost to the “Food for Thought” program which helps families in Grand Isle County with food during the months kids are out of school. We have two daughters who work and play along side of us – 13 and 10 years old.
We grow a fairly wide variety of mixed veggies as you would expect for a csa. We love to grow garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, pac choi, kale, basil…well…we love growing it all. Each year we try something new or to improve how we grow things. We have about 5.5 acres under cultivation. We do everything either by hand or with the help of our 30 hp tractor and borrowed equipment here and there. We use a lot of tractor- formed raised beds. We have a 50 family CSA and sell at two local farmer’s markets, as well as a local natural foods market. We also have an honor system farmstand on site. We have about 170 pastured, certified organic laying hens, and we usually do at least one round of pastured broilers per summer. We hope to increase our numbers of both eggs and pastured poultry as we improve our systems. In addition, we have a small flock of border-leceister/Romney sheep. We raise them for their fiber, meat, sheepskins, and their positive effect on the land. In addition the sheep, we have developed a small raw milk dairy over the last few years
FARM PHYSICAL SETTING AND COMMUNITY
Blue Heron Farm is located in Grand Isle, which is one of the islands of Lake Champlain. It is a beautiful place. Quaker road is named for the original farmers (after the First Americans, that is) who settled here. Several original barns and farm houses still stand. To the west, the sun sets over the Adirondacks, with Lake Champlain in between. We are surrounded by mostly hay and corn fields, average amounts of rural development (such as houses), wildlife, and great neighbors. Up the street, a family grows pick your own blueberries, and next door, our friends are growing 300 raspberry bushes! Our farm consists of 15 acres on one side of Quaker road, and 15 on the other side, just a bit down the street from each other. All are in the organic certification. All of our land is either pasture or in veggie cultivation. On our farm, we have a “amish style” shed for a farmstand, a 21×48 greenhouse, a 24×60 hoophouse, a new 30 X 72 hoophouse for season extension crops, a small 14 X 48 pepper hoophouse, and all of our cultivated fields. Just down the way, we have our more modern barn that houses our tractor, tools, equipment, etc., as well as hay and sheep at certain times of year. Behind this, to the north, is the remaining pasture land that the sheep graze and where we cut hay. This where apprentice “compound” is located. We also have a small patch of woods on this land.
ARE ALL CROPS AND ANIMALS RAISED ORGANICALLY? IF NOT, TO WHAT DEGREE ARE ORGANIC METHODS USED ON THE FARM?
All crops and animals are raised organically. While we don’t certify the cows or pigs, we adhere to organic standards in every way.
WORK TYPE: Apprentice
NUMBER OF APPRENTICES NEEDED: 2
NUMBER OF WORKERS NEEDED: 0
WORK PERIOD: May 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021
We would like to have 2 apprentices come sometime in May and finish in October. Dates are negotiable. The learning and work will include all parts of vegetable production for a small csa and both wholesale and direct markets. Work will include planting, cultivating, harvesting, and marketing vegetables. Work will also include helping with farm/CSA events, caring for our small herd of sheep, learning how to milk 1 cow for our farm fresh milk dairy, caring for pastured broilers, hens, and pigs, and putting up hay.
We are looking for apprentices who are able to lift at least 50 lbs on a daily basis. We need people who are able to put their heart in to their work and do their work with integrity and at at a pretty good pace. Farm work is strenuous, hot, and at times very tedious. Apprentices need to be able to pace themselves, take care of their bodies, and communicate when they need a break. Our work pace/day is sane, and we want the experience to be sustainable for everyone. Most of all, we want to have fun and have a team/community approach to our work.
Work Week and Wages
The work week would basically be Monday through Saturday morning, 5 1/2 days a week. We are extremely flexible and would hope apprentices would be too. We expect to provide a weekly stipend, $150/week. Room and Board
STIPEND AVAILABLE: Yes
WEEKLY WAGE: $150
WAGE TO BE DETERMINED: No
WAGE BASED ON EXPERIENCE: No
TRIAL PERIOD INFORMATION: We do require a visit with potential apprentices. It seems only fair to all involved that we meet and get a feel for the “fit”.
Apprentice Benefits and Learning
APPRENTICE OFF-FARM LEARNING
- Attend NOFA Vermont workshops as part of paid work
- Attend other organizations’ workshops
- Host an apprentice workshop
- Provide transportation
- Support and create local networking opportunities for apprentice
- Time off to attend NOFA Vermont workshops
ROOM & BOARD BENEFITS:
Apprentices live in one of two small dwellings ( 2 tiny rustic houses) located in a beautiful pasture field. Water, a rustic shower and kitchen, and simple composting toilet are on the site. While breakfast and lunch is a “do it yourself” affair, dinner is always a family-style meal at the house. All groceries will be provided for. We have a 13 year old and 10 year old daughter that love to share meals! We would provide three meals a day, vegetarian if requested. We are not vegetarians.
SKILLS TO BE LEARNED BY APPRENTICES
1. Starting and growing a community supported agriculture program.
2. Soil fertility management. (crop rotation, cover crops, testing, planning).
3. Growing crops from seed to harvest, including seed selection, greenhouse culture, bed preparation, transplanting/direct seeding, fertility, cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest handling.
4. Direct and wholesale marketing of organic produce and the “business side” of farming.
5. Raising chickens for meat and eggs using organic methods.
6. We are not “experts”, but we will be caring for our sheep, having them bred, and putting up hay for them. Apprentices will learn about basic animal care.
7. Canning for home use
8. Learning how to put up (and actually can, freeze and dehydrate) all your own food for the winter. Apprentices will also learn about and take part in our raw milk dairy chores, including milking.
APPRENTICE INSTRUCTION AND TRAINING
Much of the work and learning of apprentices will be side by side with us, through conversation, shared ideas around planning a day or a crop, and through a whole lot of demonstration of what we do and how we do it. This will be hands-on learning most of the time. We will supply apprentices with reading materials that have been useful to us, provide opportunities for “Q&A” sessions, conduct impromptu field meetings, and arrange for apprentices to learn about any special area of farming they are interested in. We want apprentices to have the freedom to take initiative once they feel they “get it” so that they are able to take on a few responsibilities on the farm. Overall, they will find us to be supportive, available, and concerned about the quality of their learning on our farm.