Terra Alta, West Virginia
ROUND RIGHT FARM APPRENTICESHIP DESCRIPTION 2017
To farm is to believe in the miracle of birth, life and death. And to accept it all with grace.
In its current state, the local foods movement needs more farmers. There is growing public demand for the quality and taste of locally produced foods, coupled with the recognition that current conventional farming practices lead to environmental degradation, loss of food culture and lower quality food. Small farming, with its leaner footprint, focus on quality and diversification, and access to direct-to-consumer marketing, is re-emerging as a viable alternative to the “bigger is better” mentality that still pervades agribusiness. But we still have lots of room to grow and improve our systems and numbers. Our desire to see this happen through a proliferation of ecologically responsible farms is what inspires Round Right Farm’s apprenticeship program.
Round Right Farm hires three full-season apprentices. Apprentices are provided on-farm housing for the duration of our farming season, which starts March 1st and goes through December 1st. We do not offer partial season apprenticeships.
Our main goal as mentors is to prepare our apprentices with the skills required to run a diversified farm and to demonstrate approaches that lead to success. By following our farming season from beginning to end, apprentices acquire the skills required to start their own farm. These include farming skills, as well as business and leadership skills. Learning takes place through a combination of hands on experience, intellectual-philosophical discussion and study.
Ideal candidates will show strong enthusiasm for food and farming, patience, persistence, consistent hard work, respect for teachers and teammates, humility, and an eagerness to put what is best for the farm and their teammates before their own personal desires. They will also view this learning environment as an investment in their future, understanding that what they get out of the experience will be in direct proportion to their investment in and acceptance of
Their responsibilities. One of the best (and hardest) parts of the apprenticeship lies in the amount of responsibility that our apprentices have. Although the environment is idyllic, candidates should also understand that this is not farm camp or simply an opportunity to escape the pressures of modern life. An economically viable farm is a production environment with high paced demands and expectations.
Apprentices work Monday through Friday, approximately 50 hours/week and are assigned to basic farm chores 1 weekend per month. If the weather does not permit planting on a Monday through Friday schedule, weekend planting work will be required. Harvest of time sensitive crops may also occur on weekends.
Apprentices are also assigned specialized roles for most of the season, and these roles will often have responsibilities that lie outside the normal workday. As our goal is to give our apprentices a realistic sense of the workload on a working farm, it is important that our apprentices cultivate the ability to view the day through goals accomplished rather than hours worked.
Housing and food are provided as well as a stipend of $350 every two weeks. One 4 day weekend vacation will be scheduled during Aug-Oct for each apprentice separately. Do not mistake this stipend as a wage for work performed; the stipend is provided to make it financially easier to attend this apprenticeship without increasing your personal debt. Take stock of your financial situation and make sure this will work for you.
Apprentice Roles on the farm
Apprentices are assigned to a leadership role in 2 of our 6 rotational veggie gardens. They start the season by laying out and planning these gardens on paper, finish the season by planting them into cover crops for the winter, and attend to all the details of vegetable production in between.
In May, apprentices are assigned to more specialized roles based on demonstrated aptitude and in consideration of the best fit for the needs of the farm. These roles are:
The Operator – Focus on equipment operation
The Nurturer – Focus on care of young plants and greenhouse/tunnel structures
The Provider – Focus on animal care and irrigation
Lessons and experiences vary over the course of the season, which offers many different opportunities to learn, practice and apply the acquired skills. What follows is a general outline of planned activities. Continue reading