Category Archives: Work and Internships

Jason Silverman on his farming experience

jason
Jason is a graduate of the Sustainable Food and Farming Program at UMass Amherst

CONWAY — Aging farmers own a collective $1.8 billion in farming infrastructure and land throughout Massachusetts, according to Land For Good, a nonprofit promoting New England agriculture.

That combined with rising property values — which have increased steadily since 2006 based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics — pose problems for first-generation farmers who don’t already own land or have access to investment capital. Nationally, farm real estate averaged $3,020 per acre in 2015, up about $1,000 over 2006.

The conundrum has influenced aspiring farmers, some of whom studied agriculture in college, to give up altogether, said Jason Silverman, a 29-year-old hay farmer.

Silverman understands the problem well. Since he was a young boy, Silverman was “obsessed with hay, tractors.” But his parents weren’t farmers and didn’t own land. Discouraged, Silverman almost gave up his dream of farming to pursue computer science.

Lease agreements created a path into farming.

He still doesn’t own land. Instead, Silverman hays property throughout Conway leased from other property owners who want their land farmed and care about local agriculture. Starting with nine acres in 2012, “essentially keeping it mowed,” Silverman now owns and operates Windrow Farm, a small-scale business, haying 25 acres (much of which lay dormant for years before), storing the yield in three barns.

“It’s about a 20-minute car ride or a 40-minute tractor ride. I always call my operation a traveling circus because it’s field, to field, to field,” he joked.

Silverman, who grew up in Conway and studied plant, soil and insect science at UMass, is also a farm manager at the university’s student-run vegetable farm in South Deerfield, chairman of Conway’s Agriculture Commission and the state’s field agent at New Hampshire-based Land For Good.

And it’s through his work with Land For Good that helps provide guidance in the area for leasing farm land. Land For Good has helped dozens of New England farmers, as listed on the organization’s website.

As an alternative to ownership, lease agreements give young farmers a chance to break into the market, Silverman said. It is a win for everyone involved, allowing young farmers to start small and grow their operations, older farmers to keep their land in production and, most importantly, protecting agricultural space from unwanted development, he said.

jason2

But there are potential pitfalls. Hand-shake agreements can deteriorate. Thus, strong legal paperwork is required to ensure financial safety. Further, many farmers are hesitant to invest in infrastructure on land they don’t own.

That’s where Land For Good steps in, creating preservation trusts, helping young farmers navigate land access through education, working with aging farmers to ensure their land remains in agricultural use and sometimes facilitating long-term usage agreements between the two demographics.

“It seems like there’s a new flush of farmers, especially in the hill towns. The land search is tough,” Silverman said. “There are a lot of older farmers, there are a lot of younger farmers.”

Bridging that age gap before it’s too late is imperative. Of 2,300 farmers older than 65 years old, eight percent have someone under age 45 working with them. And in the next decade, an estimated one-third of the state’s farmland is expected to change hands, according to findings by American Farmland Trust, Land For Good and U.S. Census of Agriculture data.

“What these farmers do with their land and other farm assets as they exit farming will shape Massachusetts’ agricultural landscape for generations to come,” said Lisa Luciani, spokeswoman at Land For Good.

Stories of shuttered farming operations abound, as evidenced by decaying barns and overgrown fields speckled throughout the region. New England has lost more than 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years, with about 2,000 remaining. Franklin County once had more than 125 about 40 years ago. Today, they number fewer than 35.

But there are also tales of success. Land For Good helped Mark and Jeannette Fellows sell their family’s 264-acre Warwick dairy farm, Chase Hill Farms, to Ben and Laura Wells-Tolley, a younger couple who shared their farming principles.

Another example is Simple Gifts farm in Amherst, which Silverman said has “long term secure tenure” on rented land.

Lease agreements — per month, per year, flat rate, yield percentage, maintenance agreements — “can allow you to farm the way you want to farm,” Silverman said. “People don’t understand how flexible they can be. Leases can be viable.”

Eventually, Silverman intends to purchase livestock and expand his farming operation. And eventually, he’d like to buy land. But for now, he’s slowly building his operation for longevity.

“Starting a farm in your hometown, you get roadside assistance anywhere if your tractor breaks down,” Silverman said. “I hope I can pay it forward someday when I see a young farmer trying to start up.”

More information can be found at landforgood.org. Farm seekers and land owners can find property to lease, rent, sell, or buy at newenglandfarmlandfinder.org.

Original Post by Andy Castillo at: acastillo@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263

 

Advertisements

Women in Agriculture Series at UMass

Women make up nearly half of the global agricultural workforce but receive much less funding, land, input, and training than men.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has spotlighted the gender gap in agriculture as a key obstacle to sustainable development – here’s a great infographic with statistics around this issue.
female
We want to take these stats and turn them on their head. We’ve rallied women entrepreneurs in agriculture locally and regionally who have the capacity to inspire others to create a better food system.
We’re inviting the campus community and the public to join us to learn about the successes and challenges of their journeys.
——————————————————-
There are three lectures in the series, with one taking place each month this fall (click the title for details):
The series has been organized and coordinated by Stockbridge instructor Angela Roell and lecturer Sarah Berquist and the flyer was designed by SFF student Annalisa Flynn.
Each lecture has its own Facebook event (links are included above). Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP to individual events on Facebook.
We’d appreciate if you could pass along this information to anyone else you think may be interested. Questions and feedback can be directed via email (abthorpe@umass.edu).
 ——————————————————————————————————–

Learn about the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture! 

or…

The Shambhala Worker Prophecy

As students return to universities around the world and I return to my role as a professor of Sustainable Food and Farming, I am thinking about how to maintain the freedom of thought and action that I experience during the summer months while returning to work within a hierarchical institution of power and control.  Students often wonder the same thing…….

I ask each fall – how do we maintain our sense of freedom and hope when we are faced with the sometimes oppressive  university hierarchy?  In 2003, I addressed this question during a graduation ceremony speech in which I claimed the key was compassion for all and knowledge of the connectedness of all things. I adapted an essay by Joanna Macy for this speech which I renamed “the Shambhala worker” (with the author’s permission of course).

I’ve posted it here for you

Namaste…..

Volunteering for the Amherst Summer Farmers’ Market

market

The following is a description of UMass Sustainable Food and Farming graduate Sam Bavelock’s experience working at the Amherst Farmers’ Market.  Great story…..

cowOver the summer in 2016, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Summer Farmers’ Market here in Amherst, MA!  I had been helping out with the Winter Market and wanted to continue to help throughout the summer and fall seasons.  I was eager to be outside, note the differences between the two markets, as well as engage with community members, farmers, homesteaders, artists, bakers, and more, in the discussion about food. Continue reading Volunteering for the Amherst Summer Farmers’ Market

Student Forest Garden Manager Job

stockbanner4 (2)

The Stockbridge School of Agriculture is seeking applications for a Student Forest Garden Manager to manage all aspects of the Forest Garden at the UMass Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) this season. The Forest Garden is a 2 year old 1/4 acre garden located at the ALC with the following goals and objectives.

  • A permaculture demonstration garden and an aesthetically-pleasing leisure place for the university and
  • A site for active and hands-on learning by students and community members where workshops and classes are held.
  • The Food Forest produces an abundance of food and medicinals for the community and to be donated to those in need.
  • The Food Forest is a place of opportunity where students, faculty, and other individuals make a connection to where food comes from and begins to understand a new type of agriculture which works with natural systems.

Responsibilities include:

  • Pre-season, 3-5hrs/week (Late April): Assisting with irrigation planning and ram pump irrigation workshop. Working with other land managers either with the UMass Student Farm or Food For All garden to market or donate food from the food
  • Summer Season, 15 hrs/week (May-Sept)- Establish irrigation system, mulching and weeding existing beds, sheet mulching existing plantings, establish understory plantings, labeling,
  • Fall Season, 3-5 hrs/week (Sept-late Oct/early Nov) hosting UMass permaculture classes for workdays, harvest & deliver fall crops, prepare garden for winter

Compensation for is $12/hr.

Required Qualifications:

  • Current UMass Sustainable Food & Farming student with at least 1 of the following completed courses permaculture course (Intro to Permaculture or Permaculture Design and Practice)
  • Experience with establishing and caring for perennial food systems either with UMass Permaculture Initiative or other small farm or landscaping experience
  • Excellent leadership and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently in the field
  • Commit to 15 hours/week

Desired Qualifications

  • PDC Certificate holder
  • Prior coordinating or leadership position with UMass Permaculture Initiative or equivalent.

To Apply: Send Lisa DePiano a copy of your resume with 2 professional or academic references and a paragraph describing your interest & qualifications at: ldepiano@umass.edu by Friday March 31 st 2017.

 

Veteran Farm Training

chip
Jake Alexander welcomes Chip Pinder as the new farm manager for Vets and Veggies!

We want to congratulate one of our recent Stockbridge alums, Chip Pinder, who is the new farm manager at Vets and Veggies in Athol, MA.  Chip completed the Bachelor of Sciences degree program in Sustainable Food and Farming in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture just last month.

We hope you will help support this new community building and training operation for Veterans at their GoFundMe link.

veggievet

Vets and Veggies offers housing to veterans that are interested in learning how to become a sustainable farmer. Through a small scale sustainable farming operation veterans will be guided through the process of planning crops, planting, integrated pest management, and proper harvesting techniques. Veterans will work together and create a local food systems for the residents in the community.

Here are a few resources that may be of use to Veterans interested in farming:

The Stockbridge School of Agriculture welcomes Veterans to join our Bachelor of Sciences degree program in Sustainable Food and Farming.  For those Vets who are not able to join us in Amherst, MA, you may be interested in either our 15-credit online Certificate Program or our online 60-credit Associate of Sciences degree.

Jobs Listings Related to Sustainable Food Systems

goodwork

I have a list of list serves along with a bit of advice on finding good work here:

https://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/SFF-good-work

In addition, here are more resources compiled by the C0rnucopia Institute.

Ag & Food LLM program at the University of Arkansashttp://agfoodlawjobs.blogspot.com/.  To announce an opening, email Sara Hiatt  at LLM@uark.edu.

Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and other programs http://forms.vermontlaw.edu/career/carpos.cfm or email a job description to Shelly Parker at Career Services, sparker@vermontlaw.edu

 

Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN), https://www.wfan.org/

Idealistwww.idealist.com

 

Good Food Jobs https://www.goodfoodjobs.com/

 

Southern SAWG http://www.ssawg.org/jobs

 

The Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network www.wsffn.org. Write Clara Duff, Development Associate, WSFFN, cduff@wsffn.org, to subscribe to their listserv.

 

International Association of Culinary Professionals. Email margaret@iacp.com to share opportunity with membership. Check out our newly launched website here: www.iacp.com.

 

Sustainable Agriculture Listings (National)

ATTRA Sustainable Farming Internships and Apprenticeships List: This directory of on-the-job learning opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture has been published since 1989 as a tool to help farmers and apprentices connect with each other. It is available for farms in the U.S and its territories (there are a few in Canada and the Caribbean as well). Anyone can browse the listings for free. As a subscriber, you can maintain a personalized listing to connect with internship seekers. The listed farms are primarily seeking interns/apprentices from North America

BackdoorJobs.com has a “Sustainable Living and Farm Jobs Page” that lists employment, internship and volunteer opportunities throughout the country.

The Farm-Based Education Network lists food and farm jobs

Helpx.net “is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.”

Local Harvest, though not a job search site, lists many small, local farms. If you’re looking for an internship, apprenticeship, or job in a particular area, you might want to look up farms this way and contact a farm of interest directly.

Orion Magazine lists jobs related to the environment, including some farming and agriculture-related jobs.

Sustainable Agriculture Jobs, Internships, and Apprenticeships is a facebook group formed to create an outlet for some of the sustainable agriculture-related opportunities frequently posted on the Tuft’s COMFOOD listserv. Includes

WWOOF-USA lists opportunities for “Visitors, or ‘WWOOFers.’” They “spend about half a day on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture, and receive room and board – with no money exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers. WWOOF is an educational and cultural exchange program. WWOOFing is a way to learn practical farming skills, be part of the organic agriculture movement, and experience the heart of American agrarian culture.”

Stewards of Irreplaceable Lands (SOIL) is “Canada’s Sustainable Farm Apprenticeship Program.

Sustainable Agriculture Listings (Regional/Local)

North East Workers On Organic Farms (NEWOOF) is a regional farm apprenticeship placement service sponsored by the New England Small Farm Institute. NEWOOF annually publishes an annotated list of farms, primarily in the northeast, seeking apprentices.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) lists jobs on organic farms throughout the Northeastern U.S.; NOFA NY also has an Online Apprenticeship Directory

Cornell Cooperative Extension County Association Positions – lists jobs available through the Cooperative Extension Association by County.

Cornell University Jobs – Lists jobs available through Cornell University.

General Agriculture Listings

AgCareers.com is a good source for finding employment in a range of agricultural fields. 

AgGrad.com is a new website that posts jobs and internships for aspiring agriculture professionals.

Agriculture Jobs allows you to search job boards, company career pages and associations for USA Agriculture jobs.

Agri-Management Group lists jobs submitted by employers; jobs are searchable onfarmjobsearch.com.

AgriSeek combines a worldwide news service with an interactive business directory and international online job market focusing on agriculture and related fields.

AgriSupport Online helps people looking for careers in agriculture.

CareerBuilder.com has an agriculture job listing section.

Job-Applications.com lists free applications and jobs for some of the nation’s largest farm and heavy equipment companies.

Learn4Good lists agriculture jobs in the USA and internationally.

Nationaljob.com lists agriculture jobs.

PickingJobs.com has information on seasonal jobs picking fruit and vegetables in the USA and internationally

The Science Societies Career Center lists jobs, and links to the American Society of AgronomyCrop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America webpages.

United States Department of Agriculture posts government jobs in agriculture.

International Job Listings and Opportunities

Agriseek.com has a listing of international agriculture jobs

BASF often has many international jobs listed.

CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) “is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future.” Job vacancies are listed on their website. 

Devex.com lists jobs in international development related to agriculture.

Goabroad.com lists agriculture jobs overseas.

Indeed.com lists international agriculture jobs.

JuJu’s job search engine can help you find international agriculture jobs.

Learn4good.com lists international agriculture jobs by location.

Transitions Abroad lists various organizations that provide opportunities or facilitate doing farmwork abroad. Some of the sites listed on Transitions Abroad may already be listed in our international listings.

USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service “links U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities and global food security.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) provides opportunities to work on farms worldwide.

Ecological Farming Association lists posted jobs in agricultural and related fields