20-MONTH DIVERSIFIED VEGETABLE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
We are now accepting applications for a 2023-2024 Farmer Apprenticeship. See below for details.
About The Farm
Founded in 2003, Pennypack Farm & Education Center (PFEC) is a 13-acre non-profit diversified vegetable farm growing with organic methods in Horsham, PA (eastern Montgomery county). Our mission as a non-profit organization is to Grow, Give and Teach: We run a 350+ member Summer CSA and 160 member Winter CSA and attend a Farmers Market. We run a robust Produce Giving Program, working with local hunger relief organizations to distribute high-quality, local nutritious produce to those facing food insecurity. As an education center, we focus on teaching our community about the importance of local sustainable agriculture through programming. We also teach the next generation of farmers through our farmer training programs (apprenticeship & internship).
Farm Apprentices will be employed full-time for the program duration beginning in February or March 2023 and ending in November 2024. This will be our eleventh class of apprentices.
ABOUT OUR APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
The Farmer Apprentice Program is designed to provide the necessary training to those wishing to pursue organic/sustainable farming as a livelihood, and graduates of the apprenticeship will have the necessary skills to manage a farm. Apprentices participate in all aspects of our farming operation including crop planning, planting, growing, organic pest and weed control, irrigation, and harvesting. Throughout their time with us apprentices also receive extensive tractor training including bed prep, cultivation, tractor repair, and maintenance. During the winter months apprentices learn winter growing techniques and actively participate in planning for the following season. In the second-year of the program apprentices develop their management skills by taking on more responsibilities including coordinating our Produce Giving Program, managing greenhouses, and leading volunteer groups. On-farm training is supported with a curriculum including topics such as irrigation, weed management, pest life cycles, anatomy, & control, plant disease anatomy & control, soil health, reading soil samples, and cover cropping. In addition, we encourage off-farm educational opportunities like farm tours, workshops, and conferences as schedule permits.
2023 Compensation and Benefits:
- Monthly stipend of $2,750 (paid twice a month) with an increase in January of the second year
- Weekly seasonal produce
- Paid time off
- $100 annual gear reimbursement
JOB DETAILS & REQUIREMENTS
Apprentices should be committed to a farming lifestyle and the mental and physical commitment it entails: farming is very rewarding but also demanding. As such a small team, we rely on each other to keep morale and motivation high during the heat of the summer, so we look for people who are organized, personable, enthusiastic about the work, enjoy creative problem solving, and have a sense of humor and positivity.
- Have one season of experience working on a vegetable farm or equivalent outdoor work experience
- Have good stamina both on a daily and seasonal basis and are able to complete physically demanding work for long hours for the entire duration of the season
- Interested in taking on responsibility and commitment at the farm during their seasons they work with us
- Able to keep a good pace and practice time management of themselves and other members of the team/volunteers.
- Have a positive attitude and a sense of humor (although farming is very demanding we like to keep a lighthearted and fun team atmosphere!)
- Able to be patient and flexible as tasks and priorities change often as the nature of farming means that things can shift with little notice due to weather or other variables
- Able to stay organized and maintain presence of mind in the face of difficult weather conditions such as heat, cold, wind, rain etc. or long hours
- Have the desire and aspiration to acquire the necessary skills and experience to pursue a career in organic agriculture.
- Must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation: Employees will be driving tractors, farm vehicles on supply runs, and taking produce to farmer’s market weekly in farm vehicles.
- Must pass a criminal background check and child abuse clearance.
Please note this is a very physically and mentally demanding position and candidates must be comfortable working long hours in all types of weather. Rotational weekend work is expected.
Duties will include but not limited to:
- Setting up irrigation
- Repairing items
- Working with volunteers
- Washing produce
- Driving tractors*
- Greenhouse work
- Field clean up
- General crop care
*Previous tractor experience is not required but the applicant must be willing to learn and operate tractors on a regular basis. Please mention in application if you have prior tractor experience.
- Main season (April-November) 45-50 hrs per week:
- Monday-Friday 7:15 am-5/6pm with hour for lunch (approximately 10 hours a day for the entire duration of the main season)
- Rotational weekend duties up to 2 weekends per month that may include a half day of farm tasks on Saturday, watering duties, or attending farmer’s market on Sunday.
- Winter season hours (December-March) 35-40 hours a week:
- Monday through Friday 8am-4pm with an hour for lunch
- rotational weekend duties maintaining our winter crops (1 to 2 hours on a weekend day for 1 to 2 weekends a month)
- On-the-job training and educational courses that take place on and off site through our partner organizations
- Access to our our crop calendars, crop management plans, and seed records both during and after the apprenticeship
The farm is located in Horsham, Pa, about 45 minutes by car from Philadelphia. Unfortunately there is no easy public transit and having your own transportation is required.
WHAT MAKES OUR PROGRAM UNIQUE?
Pennypack Farm is a non-profit, community centered organization focused on making connections. We have a robust community of people on the farm regularly. Our volunteer and workshare members are an integral part of the farm’s operation and the farm staff works closely with them on a regular basis. We have 30 workshares in the summer that help us harvest for CSA over the course of each week, and we also host our CSA members as they volunteer their time fulfilling their required hours of service. In addition, many corporate groups come to the farm for service days. The welcoming nature of the farm supports a network of people that work together to fulfill our mission.
We believe that soil health is the foundation of regenerative agriculture and our soil health program involves detailed soil fertility practices and innovative cover cropping practices in all four seasons. Apprentices will work closely with the farm managers to learn about and facilitate soil health on the farm.
Our efforts on the farm every day directly impact our neighbors. In our CSA we provide sustainable locally grown produce to 400 families during the summer and 180 families in the winter. We also donate produce to our food pantry partners on a weekly basis. We partner with other local community organizations to widen our reach and work towards food accessibility in our area.
The readings, seminars, and discussions in our curriculum are designed to dig deeper into the “whys” and “hows” of what we do on the farm. To become a skilled and successful farmer, one needs to know these behind-the-scenes workings of the farm ecosystem, understanding all the parts of our growing plans. Working with us you will gain experience growing throughout the winter. Our winter CSA is very successful and can add to your farming resume, especially if you have only worked a summer season so far.
Learning in a Supported Environment
With the support of our successful systems and guidance from staff, apprentices practice problem solving, management, and responsibility in a supportive environment. They are encouraged to take on leadership roles to develop management skills and are supported in cultivating an understanding of big picture goals on the farm.
If you are interested in applying for PFEC’s Apprentice Program, please email Farm Manager Kirstie Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org and include:
- Subject line: Apprenticeship Application
- Your resume (attach document to email)
- Cover letter answering the following questions:
- Why has larger scale (as in more than a few acres/raised beds, using tractors etc) sustainable agriculture piqued your interest?
- What skills prepare you for this position and what will you bring to the farm?
- Why choose Pennypack Farm’s apprenticeship?
- While rewarding, farming at this scale is also very physically and mentally demanding. Please address any relevant experience or qualities that have prepared you for the long hours and hard work required on a farm.
- How do you think spending 20 months at Pennypack Farm will affect your future goals in the field of agriculture?
- Anything more we should know about you? Any interesting talents, hobbies?
No phone calls please.
Pennypack Farm is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. PFEC encourages women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ applicants. PFEC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected factor
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