Category Archives: Work and Internships

2015 Just Roots Farm Internships

Internship Opportunities!justrootsJust Roots Farm, Greenfield  MA

Farm Education and Administration Intern
Interns will work on and be mentored in event planning, marketing, educational curriculum development, research on existing farm-to-school models, and farm administration. You may be asked to help with assistant teaching new pilot programs, working with other interns and students and doing independent work at the farm.  For information, contact Educational Director Annie Burdett.
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Herbal Medicine and Conservation Intern
Interns will work on conservation research and implementation, maintenance and development of gardens at the farm including a conservation site, herbal medicine garden and educational garden. This will include general hands-on farm/gardening assistance with medicinals, natives, and invasive eradication as well as helping to develop a more comprehensive site plan and implementing new practices at the farm.  For information, contact Educational Director Annie Burdett.
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A few members of our 2014 farm crew with farm managers Bill and Aaron. (left to right) Rachel, Braeden, Bill, Aaron, and Gina
A few members of our 2014 farm crew with farm managers Bill and Aaron.
(left to right) Rachel, Braeden, Bill, Aaron, and Gina
Farm Internships

We are a small, diverse farm where we all do a little bit of everything. Interns can expect to assist in all manner of farm operations – primarily, soil, crop, pest and weed management in the field and green houses. Typical tasks include seeding, transplanting, weeding (both by hand and with tools), harvesting, caring for animals, etc. During our CSA and farmers market season, interns will have rotational responsibilities at these marketing outlets. Specific responsibilities will vary depending on season. Just Roots manages several unique programs on the farm and in the community that interns can plug into, whether your area of interest is marketing, writing, research, medicinal herbs, conservation, farm to school, hunger relief, nutrition and cooking—the list goes on. Farm management will work with interns to craft an individualized educational experience. Education will be primarily field-based but will also include some reading.

There are four seasonal farm commitment options:

  • Full-season (March – Nov)
  • Spring (March – May) 10-15 hrs/wk
  • Summer (May – Sept) 15-20 hrs/wk
  • Fall (Sept – Nov) 10-15 hrs/wk
 Farm management will work with interns to develop a consistent weekly schedule that accommodates school and other regular commitments. Details on start and end dates can be discussed during interviews. Please include the season you wish to intern for and your weekly availability in your cover letter.
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Qualifications:
The farm internship program is geared toward college students and individuals who are seeking hands on farm experience, and looking to grow their knowledge of farm operations in order to build the skills necessary for a career in farming, farm education, etc. Previous experience/knowledge in farming and food systems is a bonus, but not required. Interns should have a positive attitude, be enthusiastic and active learners, have good time management, communication, and organizational skills, be able to lift up to 40lbs, prepared to work their scheduled shift in a variety of (safe) weather conditions, and work well individually as well as with a team. Applicants must be at least 15 years old to be considered.

The internship is unpaid and housing is not included, though college credit is available for interns enrolled in school. Stipends are available at participating colleges and universities. Contact your internship or program advisor for information. Interns have access to free vegetables and are invited to attend Just Roots workshops and intensives free of charge.

How to Apply:
To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to farm manager, Aaron Drysdale (aaron@justroots.org). Please include the season you are interested in applying for, your projected weekly availability, and why you’d like to intern on the Greenfield Community Farm.

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NOTE: UMass and Five College students can earn academic credit for working at Just Roots.  Contact John Gerber for information.  And if you are looking for a farming and/or marketing internship experience for spring and or summer, you can find several search engines for jobs and internships on the Stockbridge School web page here “Finding Work and Internships.

 

More young farmers are needed!

SWOOPE, Va. – The United States needs to recruit new farmers, fast. The average age of the farmer is rising and the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farmers is projected to continue to drop in the coming years.

One answer: the Agriculture Act of 2014 which will pump an extra $20 million a year into USDA beginner farmer and rancher programs.

Another answer may be found at Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. This pasture-based organic farm, which only sells locally, has gained an international reputation for setting the standard in innovative farming techniques.

A Prized Internship

Third generation farmer Joel Salatin emphasizes following the cycles of nature and rejecting any pesticides, fertilizers, or hormones. Polyface offers apprentice and internship programs which have become a sought-after opportunity for young farmers.

The day CBN News visited, we found the parking lot filled with intern cars from all over the country. Every year, hundreds apply for a few coveted spots.

“I think the pendulum is beginning to swing around now to where young people are beginning to realize that sitting in a Dilbert cubicle, working for ‘the man’ in a Fortune 500 company, doesn’t do it for me,” Salatin said. “I want to touch what I’ve made.”

Salatin turns away hundreds of internship seekers every year. Many have read at least one of his many books on alternative farming, respect his sustainable methods, and envy his thriving farm operation.

Tim Rohrer fled his California desk job to intern for Salatin, who he calls the “Steve Jobs” of agriculture.

“Being here, there have not been many days we’ve worked so far that have not been less than 12 hours a day,” Rohrer told CBN News. “And yet I’m up and ready to go the next day and it’s just ’cause there’s a passion for doing it. I believe in it.”

Part of that passion is driven by a desire to help fix our country’s unhealthy eating problem. At Polyface, interns and apprentices learn the latest in regenerative farming techniques.

“I really am very concerned about health and nutrition and the way we grow foods and the way that affects us,” intern Shalena Campfield said.

For many of the interns, their walk with Christ is also a motivation.

“Faith plays a big role for me,” intern Erick Schlener said. “I see farming as my mission field.”

The ‘American Royalty’

Former Polyface intern Ben Beichler runs a dairy farm a few hours away. He credits his internship with jumpstarting his farming career.

“So much of what we do here on the farm is experiences like knowing what you’re looking for, like knowing what to do if you get into a tight situation,” he told CBN News. “And Polyface gave me real-life experiences {like} where cows get out and things break down.”

Since his internship, Beichler has faced the same challenges that deter many of today’s young farmers: land and capital.

“I like to joke, farming is the American royalty: you’re either born into it or you marry it,” he said. “Or you have a really long struggle.”

For Beichler and many of his peers, it’s been a struggle. Beichler is getting by right now managing a small herd for Old Church Creamery, his in-laws’ business.

A Viable Market

For others, like Jordan Green, working land that others have written off gives them a start. Green, owner and founder of J&L Green Farm, leases several properties in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Green oversees everything from chickens to what’s called “forested pork,” pigs that mainly feast on grass, berries, and nuts.

“I like doing something different every day, and enjoying working outdoors, working with animals,” he said.

The real question: just where is the market for local food heading? Most industry watchers doubt it will become mainstream but see it continuing to grow as a niche market.

“I see sustainable farming becoming more and more plausible and viable,” Green said.

The Farmer’s Life

What will also help is the energy and dedication these young farmers bring to their work and ultimately to Americans’ tables.

“I know it’s what I’m supposed to do so at the end of the day, it’s going to happen,” Schlener said.

“I’m in farming for life,” Beichler said. “There’s no question about that.”

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In a related story, the Associated Press reports a growing trend of young farmers in New England!

Continue reading More young farmers are needed!

The Future of Food Is Sustainable and Locally Sourced

wsjBy Alice Waters  – July 7, 2014 – Wall Street Journal
Ms. Waters is a chef, author and founder of Chez Panisse restaurant and the Edible Schoolyard Project.

Over the past half-century, the fast-food industry, aided by government subsidies, has come to dominate the food marketplace. That development has given us an obesity epidemic and, with the growth of so-called factory farms, has degraded the environment.

More recently, in a reaction against fast food and Big Ag, the sustainable-food movement, with a focus on local food networks and healthy eating, has gained a foothold in restaurants and farms across the country. What began as an underground movement has now gone mainstream.

Looking forward, I believe that ever-growing numbers of Americans—led by passionate chefs, farmers and activists—will choose the latter of these two paths: a sustainable food future. Let me describe how I believe, ideally, that future will look.

Farmers’ Markets

The number of farmers’ markets and young people taking up farming will multiply geometrically. As such, we will see at least one farmers’ market in every town in the country and, in turn, the revitalization of many areas.

At the same time, small mom-and-pop restaurants will enjoy a resurgence. These owners—with little enthusiasm for franchises—will be interested primarily in quality of life and in building a community around their businesses. These restaurants will build relationships directly with farms and will want to increase the quality and variety of their produce. As a result, I expect to see a greater variety of fruits and vegetables becoming available in the market.

Growing demand will push farmers to be innovative, as will climate change. That will mean more greenhouses in the colder parts of the country, growing food in urban areas and choosing crops that can withstand extreme weather.

This movement poses a threat to fast-food businesses and industrial food companies, both of which I predict will continue to shape-shift and co-opt their values for profit. As long as their products continue to be supported by government subsidies, they will be successful. The reality is that the sustainable-food movement’s reach will grow only to a point and ultimately will be limited to those with access, means and education—unless legislators dramatically change food and agriculture policy.

I think that those in government will come back to their senses in the coming years and begin to subsidize farms instead of factories. As access to real food becomes increasingly divided between the haves and the have-nots, food security will become even more of a social-justice issue.

Back to School

I am confident that we will see a growing consensus about the most effective way to transform food in America: building a real, sustainable and free school-lunch program. Decision makers will agree that the most sensible place to reach every child and to have the most lasting impact is with a program of “edible education.” Having worked in that field for more than 20 years via the Edible Schoolyard Project, I know what’s possible: Providing children with delicious meals made from organic ingredients transforms their attitudes about, and behavior toward, food for life.

Beyond the individual nutrition outcome of each child, an institutional food program with principled buying criteria (food that is locally sourced and organic) becomes a subsidy system for real food—a subsidy system that sees schools become the engine for sustainability.

I know that those on both sides of the political aisle finally realize that in food we find the root problem of many of our nation’s ills. I am not sure yet that they realize that food has the solution.

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NOFA Interviews Stockbridge Grad Ben Barkan

By Julie Rawson, NOFA/Mass Executive and Education Director

NOFA April Newsletter

NOFA/Mass in the beginning stages of creating a program to focus efforts on our more suburban members. Initially we will focus on Middlesex County and do some serious and in depth research with our NOFA/Mass members, NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals, and activist organizations to get the lay of the land with respect to personal and public organic farming and gardening projects.

With this information we hope to shed light on and educate about best practices regarding organic matter development and carbon sequestration in the soil with food production as the vehicle. We want to highlight innovative gardening practices, progressive public organic land management and enhance the connection between service providers and those interested in organic gardening and land care. Hopefully the inspiring successes of those innovators who are on the ground can be spread across the region to those who are hoping to heighten local organic food production. This article is the first in a series.

Expanding (sub)urban edible gardens

benbarkenIn mid March when spring still seemed very far away, it was nice to speak with Ben Barkan. Ben is exemplary of the surge of young folks who have entered farming and are quickly finding successful niches in the market place. Ben founded his Arlington based business, Home Harvest, in 2008. He and his staff provide services that include design and installation of edible gardens, raised beds, landscaping, stone masonry, chicken coops, and greenhouses.

I am always curious about what kind of personality, or perhaps upbringing, allows a person to strike fearlessly out into the world to do what he or she is passionate about. It really started for Ben when he was 15 and got a summer job with Dennis Busa at Lexington Community Farm (formerly known as Busa Farm).

Here is the story, according to Ben:

benb“I fell in love with the physical labor of farming while working at Busa Farm… Dennis Busa was my mentor and manager while in high school. He was really supportive. I continued to work on Dennis’s farm part time while starting my edible gardening business. I grew up in Arlington and working at Busa Farm was sort of a spontaneous summer job. It was challenging. I had autonomy, and I really enjoyed it. I found out quickly that it would be hard to make a living at farming, and I looked at landscaping as an alternative.” After graduating from high school, Ben worked on over 30 organic farms in Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia. “Inspired by meeting so many awesome people, I decided to start an edible gardening company in Boston,” said Ben.

“While I was traveling in Hawaii, I got a job setting up a vegetable garden. Back home, I got my first client from a connection through Busa Farm. I started the company at 18 and am now 23.”  “Organic farming seems to be an emerging trend and a lot of young people are starting to see farming as a career path. Farming offers a lot of self worth,” observes Ben. “Younger people are starting to realize that we 10358799_10102006873596112_626887403_oneed more small-scale, local, and bio-diverse farms. I am currently learning so much in my last semester at Stockbridge School of Agriculture in the Sustainable Food and Farming program. With the proper ethics, I think farming can be a way to save the planet. The most sustainable option of all however is to grow food for yourself. All of our gardens attempt to mimic nature’s efficiency–biodiversity is an important part of sustainability.”

Knowing that growing in cities often means dealing with lead in soil, I asked Ben about contamination issues. “First we take multiple soil tests and find out where the contamination is the worst,” said Ben. “Reducing the bioavailability of lead is crucial. Liming and adding compost can reduce plants’ ability to uptake lead, and a heavy-duty barrier is necessary sometimes. We can also take tissue samples to confirm that the produce is safe. Too much of the wrong type of compost can have negative impacts. Our compost is primarily made from leaves and grass; it’s well rotted and not too rich. When growing in compost made solely from food crops, you can have too many nutrients, which causes adverse effects. Our compost is a custom mix and with all our gardens, we are relying on microbial activity and mineralization. We are letting the microbes do the work.” Ben does not use foliar nutrition sprays. He feels they are not necessary because plants absorb nutrients most efficiently through their roots. He also believes that micronutrients are rarely deficient in Northeast soils and is concerned that some organic growers use copper sulfate sprays for disease control, which can cause toxic levels of copper to accumulate in the soil. Ben is planning to graduate from The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass in the spring.

Additionally, he took a 5-week permaculture design course in Oregon. He has attended numerous NOFA events. “I remember when I was at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 NOFA conferences and took workshops on soil chemistry; now I have been studying it in school and appreciate having the base foundation I acquired from NOFA,” says Ben. “I remember hearing Paul Stamets talk about mushrooms and how they can save the world. NOFA was great at introducing me to a lot of topics. Will Allen was another real inspiration.” Ben also hopes to learn more about herbalism.

I asked Ben what is remarkable about him and/or his business model. “Every garden we design and install is different. Harmonizing each garden to suit each landscape makes a lot of sense. I think the one-size fits all approach is not a good idea because each site is different. The design process takes a little longer with our methods, however our resulting gardens are more holistic and take the entire property into consideration. We try to engage our clients with our work. We want to teach them so they can maintain their own gardens. We try to listen to their goals, and we work with a wide variety of materials when building our gardens. Some customers want to maintain their own garden, and some hire us year after year to maintain [their garden]. Often, a few years after the installation, customers are confident enough to plant and tend to their own gardens. Education is a part of sustainability. Knowing how to generate your own fertility and grow your own food is important.”

Our conversation shifted to climate change. Ben shared his thoughts: “I think encouraging more localized and bio-diverse systems will help ameliorate climate change. There will be less carbon in the atmosphere. Tillage is a part of the problem, and we generally don’t till. We are huge fans of sheet mulching and mulching in general which mimics the forest. You can go into Hadley in the spring and see dust particles in the air from all the farmers plowing up their fields. That is carbon and soil I want to keep in the soil by minimizing soil disturbance. Our sheet mulch consists of cardboard, newspaper, compost, wood chips from local arborists, and local leaf mulch, especially for use with perennials. We don’t use peat moss or cocoa fiber. We try to keep all of our materials locally sourced.”

Lastly we discussed how we must move forward to promote more local agriculture in the urban/suburban setting. Said Ben: “Education is going to play a huge role. During World War II, 20 million Americans grew 40% of the nation’s vegetables. We did it before and we can do it again. Growing your own produce is empowering and the positivity is contagious. I think the movement toward local food systems is already happening. It just has to do with showing people what is possible. So much organic and nutrient dense produce can be grown in a relatively small space. A lot of people don’t know where to start. We teach folks how to take soil tests and work with lead contamination and provide a maintenance manual, discussing how to maintain gardens organically and sustainably. Getting this movement to spread is about sharing the knowledge.”

And here are Ben’s closing words: “I get really excited when I see people growing their own food. I think it is one of the most positive things we can do for our environment and for ourselves. There is such immense satisfaction in tending to your plants, watching them thrive and mature, harvesting the bounty and sharing the harvest with friends and family. This is really what humans evolved to do. Reconnecting with where our food comes from is profound and in need.”

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More women in sustainable farming these days!

logoThe following segment is from an article on women in farming featured in Yes Magazine (4/17/14).

What the numbers show

The number of women who were named as the principal operator of an American farm or ranch increased by nearly 30 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture. Women composed about 14 percent of principal farm operators in 2007, and that percentage has held steady since then, according to the preliminary 2012 census released in February. Continue reading More women in sustainable farming these days!

Deepening Roots Farm Internship – Amherst

Deepening Roots Farm Internship 2013

About Us:

Farmers: Andrew Korza and Heather Ernest

We started the Deepening Roots Farm last year on two acres of land in South Amherst.  We grow a variety of leafy greens to create salad and braising mixes for schools and restaurants.  We both graduated from Umass in 2006 and then went on to spend the next 5 years working for non-profits and teaching Deepening Roots workshops in  sustainable agriculture and health wellness across the country.  We are happy to be back in the Pioneer Valley and starting this farm has been an incredible experience.

For more information on our educational programs visit http://www.deepeningroots.org

Internship:

We would like to offer the opportunity to experience all phases of operating a farm such as: soil management, planting, weeding, mulching, irrigating, harvesting, washing, packing, setting up accounts, designing planting schedules, record keeping, green house management, problem solving, learning to work with limited budgets and resources and experimentation with best growing practices.  There are so many moving and evolving parts to the agricultural system.  Many of which you don’t think of until you are in the process of running the farm.  We had worked on many farms with the majority of our time focused on field work (planting, weeding and harvesting).  So when it came time to start our own farm there was so much that I needed to learn beyond the field work.  We would like to give participants the opportunity to experience the whole system.  Participants will also be able to learn the Deepening Roots Curriculum on Community Food Systems and Health and Wellness and conduct there own hands on research project if interested.

Credit may be arranged for UMass students

Unpaid

Minimum of 4 hrs / wk

This internship is for everyone – no experience wanting to get a taste of the farm life to extensive experience wanting to focus on farm design and planning and everything in between.

Contact: Andrew

413 537 9915 or andrew@deepeningroots.org

Practicum Opportunities for Spring Semester

Sustainable Food and Farming students (and others in related fields) are invited to contact John Gerber during the add/drop period to discuss opportunities for internship/practicums or independent study work.  Two of the new opportunities available are:

1. Work with Grow Food Amherst to:

  • organize a gardening workshop in April
  • do an evaluation of the local community gardening program
  • organize a gleaning workshop for fall
  • organize a seed swap for the local community
  • explore and develop a grant to support the project

2. Work with the new All Things Local Cooperative Store project to:

  • develop and design logo, banner and other marketing materials
  • investigate the economics of a local food coop
  • develop a grant to help fund the start up
  • research policy, bylaw and procedural alternatives for management

Other internships for spring, summer and fall may be found at the Stockbridge Job/Internship web page.