Farm Intern/Apprentice Red Shirt Farm
- Date Posted January 02, 2018
- Location Lanesborough, MA
- Category Agriculture
- Job Type Internship/Apprentice
Red Shirt Farm is a 13-acre, diversified, sustainable farm in Lanesborough, Massachusetts in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains managed by Jim and Annie Schultz. Jim studied ecological agriculture at Sterling College, New Alchemy Institute and The Evergreen State College and apprenticed for three years on small farms around New England. Annie grew up on Caretaker Farm in Williamstown and apprenticed in Maine. We have been developing the farm since we purchased the land in 2000 and are entering our 7th year as a commercial operation.
We employ ecologically-based, regenerative methods to grow 2 acres of mixed vegetables which we provide to a 65-family CSA, several wholesale accounts and a farmers market. No pesticides, herbicides or chemicals of any kind are used on the farm and we practice permaculture-based, Biodynamics-inspired no-till methods in our vegetable production and orchard and pasture management. We make the majority of the compost that we use on the farm and are actively engaged in remineralizing our soil. A small, multi-species permaculture orchard is just coming into production.
Our infrastructure is constantly evolving but we currently have a barn with vegetable wash area and walk-in coolers, a heated propagation house, two large greenhouses and a mobile high tunnel. The farm is solar-powered and we use a climate battery to heat one of our three greenhouses year-round. We use a wide spectrum of tools appropriate to the task at hand including a tractor, a BCS, and a variety of human-powered implements and hand tools.
Pasture-raised animals are an integral part of our operation and we are committed to preserving and restoring heritage breeds. We want to provide an alternative to the industrial Cornish Cross chicken which pervades over 99% of the market. So we selectively breed, hatch and raise Buckeye and Black Australorp chickens and Standard Bronze turkeys for meat and eggs without the use of hormones or antibiotics. These birds have a slow, natural rate of growth and don't suffer from the health problems of the industrial breeds. Slow Food USA, an organization dedicated to transforming the way we produce, consume and enjoy food, has recognized the Buckeye and the Standard Bronze Turkey in its prestigious “Ark of Taste”—a catalog of endangered, heritage foods that are sustainably produced and notable for their intense flavor. Our poultry is processed humanely on-farm under a Massachusetts state license. We also raise heritage pigs on pasture which we sell as halves and wholes. Several bee hives are kept for pollination and honey production.
Our interns participate in all aspects of the farm’s operations, including the philosophy of sustainable methods, the logistics of managing a diverse vegetable and animal farm, and marketing. Interns will be exposed to seeding flats, grafting tomatoes, greenhouse monitoring and watering, direct seeding and transplanting, soil amending, cover cropping, bed preparation, weed control, pest management, harvesting, season extension, compost management, operating a BCS walk-behind tractor, and selling at a farmers market as well as animal husbandry, electric fencing and humane processing. The internship entails about 45-55 hours of work per week, including marketing at the CSA or farmers market for half a day on Saturdays.
Start/End Dates – Early April to Mid November
Although prior farming experience is not strictly necessary, our apprenticeship program is designed for those with a serious professional interest in agriculture. You are our ideal candidate if you are honest, responsible, respectful and reliable. You should be self-motivated; take pride in doing high quality work; work well with others and individually; have a good sense of humor and a desire to have fun; and be excited about living in community with others. Good people skills are important—you should display a friendly, energetic and engaged demeanor when interacting with CSA members and customers farmers markets, and be comfortable interacting with and leading volunteers, student work groups and WWOOFers. The work is physically demanding and can be repetitive at times. You should be physically fit and able to lift at least 55 lbs, prepared to work in all weather conditions, and find enjoyment in doing manual labor. A valid drivers license is required and your own transportation is desirable.
Compensation and living arrangements
Apprentices receive room and board on the farm as well as a $850 monthly stipend. Housing is available as either a room within the farmhouse or in an adjoining studio apartment. Both housing options offer a private bathroom. Other amenities include workers compensation insurance, wireless internet, laundry facilities, and farm produce for personal use.
Meals are typically cooked and eaten communally, with rotating responsibilities both in the kitchen and around the farmhouse. We eat a primarily veggie-centric diet supplemented with protein raised on the farm.
Interns receive substantial education in all aspects of running a small-scale, diversified farm, and enjoy access to the farm’s extensive agricultural library of books and periodicals. Interns are also given the opportunity to participate in CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), which includes regular half-day visits to other farms in the area. If there is interest, interns can learn about and participate in food preservation, yoghurt making, bee-keeping and harvesting honey.
When you're not working on the farm, you'll never be at a loss for things to do. The Berkshires is a cultural mecca and a paradise for outdoors enthusiasts. The area boasts over a hundred cultural attractions, many of them world renowned. Take in a concert at Tanglewood; see a show at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Shakespeare and Company or the Barrington Stage; or enjoy art exhibits at the Clark Art Institute, Mass MoCA or the Norman Rockwell Museum. We’re located right at the base of Mt. Greylock, the state’s highest peak—just head out the door to go for a hike, mountain bike or trail run. A number of other state parks dot the area. Take a dip at Pontoosuc Lake, Wahconah Falls or Margaret Lindley Park, all just minutes away. Three other farms in the area host apprentices—make some new friends and hang out after work. Or relax with a book from our extensive sustainable ag library and add some book learning to your new-found hands-on skills.