Beginning Farmer Training

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Continue reading below for more information about interning at Troy Community Farm, or visit the Community GroundWorks' Internship Opportunities page for information about all of our intern programs.

Overview

Farm interns and apprentices work in every aspect of vegetable production on our certified organic urban farm including: seeding and transplanting from our passive solar greenhouse, composting, cover cropping, weeding, mulching, trellising, bed prep, pruning, harvesting, and post-harvest handling. Interns/apprentices also assist with marketing our crops through our CSA and weekly on-site farm stand. The combination of weekly formal instruction, hands-on experience working side-by-side with the farmers, and responsibility supervising others at the farm gives interns/apprentices a solid foundation in small-scale organic farming.

Positions

All farm interns/apprentices receive all educational materials and classes, as well as access to “farmer food” (blemished or unsold produce) and our u-pick CSA flower garden.  All these positions are educational and should be considered as such, whether or not they are paid.  Priority for paid apprenticeships is given to applicants who have worked on our farm before and/or have previous experience on other farms.  Apprentices will work more hours weekly and will therefore have greater responsibilities in the farm’s day to day operations than volunteer interns.

1. Full-season paid apprenticeship: April 3-October 20

  • 700 hour internship, 3 positions available
  • Internship hours:
o   Mondays: 7am-3:30pm
o   Tuesdays: 7am-12pm
o   Wednesdays: 7am-3:30pm
o   Fridays: 7am-12pm
o   Three Thursday farm stands shifts at some point during the season: 2:30-7pm

2. Volunteer internship: May 14-August 31 minimum commitment required, although longer internships are encouraged.

  • 200+ hour internship, 10 positions available
  • Internship hours:
o   Mondays:  7am-3:30pm
o   Plus at least one additional day (Tuesdays 7am-12pm, Wednesdays 7am-3:30pm, and/or Fridays 7am-12pm)
o   Minimum of one Thursday farm stand shift at some point during the season: 2:30pm-7pm

Typical Week

Monday:

  • 7am-8am: Group check in and field tour, create plan for the week
  • 8am-11am: Field work
  • 11am-11:30am: Lunch
  • 11:30am-2pm: Field work
  • 2pm-3:30pm: Class

Tuesday:

  • 7am-7:15am: Group check in
  • 7:15-12pm: Field work

Wednesday:

  • 7am-7:15am: Group check in
  • 7:15am-12pm: CSA harvest and pack
  • 12pm-12:30pm: Lunch
  • 12:30pm-3:30pm: Field work

Thursday:

  • 4pm-6:30pm Farm stand and CSA pick-up
    • (2:30pm-7pm: Intern/Apprentice work schedule)

Friday:

  • 7am-7:15am: Group check in
  • 7:15am-10am: Wholesale herb and crop harvest
  • 10am-12pm: Field work

Benefits

1. Field tour: Arguably one of the most important educational tools of our program, every Monday morning all staff, apprentices and interns walk the fields for an hour. This is a time to discuss conditions, project yields, plan the CSA box, scout for pests, prioritize weekly tasks, etc.

2. Classes: All farm interns and apprentices attend our series of formal intern classes on Mondays from 2:00pm-3:30pm beginning mid May and ending late August (13 total).  There will be readings associated with each class, which will be emailed a week in advance. Please see the 2017 Intern Class Schedule for reference.

3. Beginning Farmer Training Manual: All farm interns/apprentices receive a copy of the Troy Farm Beginning Farmer Training Manual.  The manual provides detailed information about how things work at the farm, and includes copies of all the farm’s planning and record keeping documents, such as our planting schedule and crop spacing guide. Interns/apprentices use the manual as a learning tool, as a reference while working at the farm, and as a lasting resource once they leave the farm. 

4. Field trip:  During July (date and farm to be announced), farm staff, apprentices, and interns take a field trip to another local farm on a Tuesday afternoon.  This is a great opportunity to compare notes and is always a highlight for all.  

5. Farm Stand: A few times during the season, each intern/apprentice will help distribute the CSA share on Thursday evening from 2:30 to 7:00 PM.  Working the CSA pickup provides an important opportunity to interact with the community that eats the food we spend so much time growing.  

6. Solo week: Late in the season the farm staff step aside for one week while the interns and apprentices decide on,  harvest, pack, and deliver the CSA share all on their own.  A culmination of all that has been learned, interns and apprentices work together to take ownership over the farm for a week.

Why do they love it?

Interns walk away with knowledge, skills, fond memories, and new perspectives on life. Read what interns have to say about their experiences on the farm!

 

                                                                                                      

"As a farm intern I learned both the theory and practice of effective small-scale organic agriculture, via weekly classes and the milieu of efficient, beautifully simple systems that governed our day-to-day labor. More than this, I learned the joy of meaningful work; work done with my hands in connection with the earth and in conjunction with a community.

- Robin Delaquess, 2015

"Doing the internship at Troy Farm was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I knew I was going to learn a lot and work hard, but I didn't realize that I would make great friends, truly come to love the outdoors right down to the soil, and find a job that made me feel alive. I became a farmer at Troy and found my life's calling, which I think is what we all are searching for in the end."

- Charlotte Condie, 2015 

"I am starting a small farm operation next year, and the planning tools and general farming knowledge gained at Troy will be extremely helpful to my efforts. The experience was both empowering and humbling, and has caused me to be more cautious and methodical about starting out on my own. I am extremely grateful to the managers at Troy for being so open and honest with us interns, and for being such good teachers and motivators."

– Eric Udelhofen, 2012 (now operates Taproot Farm & Fruit) 

"I am so thankful that I was able to be part of such an exciting and innovative farm this summer, working with an incredible crew and learning from two gifted farmers and teachers.  I can see why so many interns come back to visit or to become worker-shares—Troy Community Farm is a special place."  

– Megan Bjella, 2010

"I found that the internship offered a number of challenges, all of which helped me grow not only as a potential farmer but also as a leader, effective communicator, and member of a community."

– Alex Lyon, 2009

"I learned that there is a lot more to farming than romance. Working at Troy, I gained a more clear-eyed perspective of what it really means to be a farmer... a sweaty, sore, stressed, and sleep-deprived farmer. I learned that while reality may not live up to the romance, it's still pretty good."

– Lisa DiPietro, 2008

"One of the things I wanted to experience most on the farm, was just working outside. I worked under whatever weather the sky had to offer that day. I listened to the breeze. I felt the hot sun on my back. I dug, scraped, plucked, bent, squatted, and hauled. I got dirty. I worked hard. When I got home, I always felt so satisfied."

– Cassie Nolterwyss, 2004 & 2005 (now operates Crossroads Community Farm )