Apprentices at Crystal Spring
Every season we hire a group of energetic apprentices to work side by side with us running the farm. The success of each year hinges on the work of the apprentices. There is no other single variable that holds such sway over the outcome of any given summer. The value apprentices bring to the farm in hard work, focused minds and positive attitudes are traded for real experience in the fields, with the customers and with us directly as we problem solve our way through each season.
In addition to “learn as you go” experiences we also provide readings, a weekly field walk to look at and talk about what is happening around the farm, informal ‘lectures’ on different systems at work here (irrigation, crop rotation, financial planning, etc), and time off to tour other local farms.
Having learned how to farm organically by working for several talented growers around the northeast we are committed to the apprenticeship model of training the next generation of farmers.
What the Apprenticeship Entails
We work Monday through Friday 6am to 6pm and Saturday 6 am until noon with an hour taken for breakfast and an hour for a shared lunch. Responsibility for weekend chores (watering the greenhouse, irrigation, and livestock care) is taken on rotation every fifth week. CSA distribution and farmer’s market require late days and evenings which are traded for comp time on another work day. A full week’s vacation is given during the season and additional time off is available as the season dictates.
The work and pace are vigorous here. Apprentices must be enthusiastic about long, physical days with concrete goals to achieve. They should be comfortable lifting 40lbs above their waist. The best apprentice will be focused on training themselves to manage their own farms in the future and will be enthusiastic about trading long hours for hard skills and information to take with them. Farm experience and/or experience with intensive, multi-task oriented work (busy restaurants, warehouse/delivery work, etc.) is highly valued.
We offer competitive stipends and give preference to applicants with experience and demonstrated agricultural goals. To begin the application process please forward a resume with references. Please note that an all applicants must be available for an on farm interview.
What We Hope to Share
All aspects of the farm’s management are part of the apprenticeship. Training in fieldwork both by hand and with equipment, greenhouse propagation, livestock management, harvest and handling techniques, marketing, financial systems and overall planning skills are examined and practiced over the course of the season.
Seasonal tasks: April: “planning systems” training, greenhouse seeding and care of starts, equipment training, field tillage and prep, seeding and transplanting, fencing, care of live stock.
May: Greenhouse seeding and care of starts, more field prep, irrigation set-up, transplant and seed, return of livestock to pasture and pastured lambing.
June: Greenhouse seeding and care of starts, transplant and seed, harvest for CSA and market, weed control, intensive pasture management, haying.
July: Greenhouse seeding and care of starts, transplant and seed, harvest for CSA and market, weed control, marketing of first lambs.
August: Transplant and seed, harvest for CSA and market, weed control, cover cropping.
September: Harvest for CSA and market, cover cropping, breeding of ewes.
October: Harvest for CSA and market, cover cropping, farm/equipment maintenance, put-away systems, begin next season’s planning.
Winter season: One apprenticeship is offered to help care for the farmstead and manage livestock over the winter months (December-March). This position focuses on management of our Katahdin Hairsheep flock and requires prior livestock experience. Room is offered in exchange for limited hours each week.