Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thought for the day courtesy of Sue

My sister Sue is out in Kalcutta, India working/ doing service at Mother Teresa's homes and Brother Xaviers.  This is what she posted on her update today and wanted to share it with all of you - because love is hard - whether it be with people, animals, farm, land, weather..

Love you Susie - you are amazing for doing what you are doing!

"True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray and ask for the courage to love." -MT

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Looking for two apprentices for this growing season

Hey everybody - we are looking for 2 apprentices (we just had to positions open up unexpectedly) to start ASAP for this growing season - room (wonderful yurt like tent in the middle of a pasture),board and small stipend - we have a dairy cow, sheep, lambs, chickens, meat birds, and tons of vegetables - come learn about small family farming in the middle of beautiful lake
champlain - you can check out our full description of a farm apprentice below.

Apprentice Period: May 21, 2011 - October 15, 2011(maybe later)

Work Period Detailed Explanation:
We would like to have three apprentices come sometime in May and finish in October. The work will include all parts of vegetable production for a small csa and both wholesale and direct markets. Work will include planting, cultivating, harvesting, and marketing vegetables. Work will also include helping with farm/CSA events, working on community growing of vegetable donations to the local food bank, caring for our small herd of sheep (not for meat), caring for pastured broilers and hens, caring for and milking our family cow, and putting up hay.

Farm Type:
Diversified (integrating crop/livestock)
This farm is Certified Organic
This farm has a CSA
This farm runs a farm stand
Stipend Available: Small stipend, room and board

Work Schedule:
The work week would basically be Sunday through Friday, 5 1/2 days a week. Friday evening through Sunday morning would always be free. We are extremely flexible and would hope apprentices would be too. We expect to provide a weekly stipend, probably about $50/week. Its negotiable. We feel that remuneration in the form of room, board, and education should be considered by any applicant.

Room and Board: Room and Board

The apprentices will live in Sibley tents (like a yurt) we will be placing on the edge of a hayfield. Our hope is that apprentices will have their own tent. The meals, bathroom, and shower arrangements will be in our small home. We have a 3 year old daughter (and a 5 month old daughter) who love to share meals! We would provide three meals a day, vegetarian if requested. We are not vegetarians. Meals on off times would not be provided, but food and amenities would always be available. Any potential apprentice would need to be willing to share the yurt with the other intern.

Trial Period Information:
We do require a visit with potential interns. It seems only fair to all involved that we meet and get a feel for the "fit".

All Organic:
All crops are raised organically. The sheep are not certified organic, but they may as well be because they eat only hay/grass and are managed to reduce parasite loads, and thus reliance on wormers. The sheep gave birth to 11 lambs in the month of May 2011.

Farm Background:
We (Christine and Adam) have been married since 2003. We started our farm in 2004. We started our family in 2007 when our daughter Sadie was born. On December 10th, 2010, Delia Mae was born. Our farm grew out of our desire to grow good food for our wedding, and we caught the farm bug. So, we are in our 7th year of organic farming and our 5th year with a csa program. It was the dream of landowners Roy Newton and Ev Grimes to bring the land back into active farming use. They supported us in starting Blue Heron Farm on their land. We are working on our dream of creating a diversified, sustainable, family farm with produce, grazing animals for fiber, poultry, apprenticeships, and eventually, as an educational/therapeutic youth farm worker program.Why educational and therapeutic? We both have a background in education, counseling, and social work (3 Masters degrees between us!). We both love to see people grow and learn. We both believe deeply that it is important for our world to have an organic, local food system, and we know working with your hands and seeing the fruits of your labor is profoundly good for the spirit.Another aspect of our farm is the attempt to make organic affordable, and to give back. We participate in NOFA's supported csa share program, and the senior-share programs, both of which help low income community members afford fresh, organic food. We also sell food at a reduced cost to the"Food for Thought" program which helps families in Grand Isle County with food during the months kids are out of school.Currently, Adam works full time off the farm. Eventually, we want our farm to be our sole income source, but that takes time. Our farm will always be organic.

Farm Setting:
Blue Heron Farm is located in Grand Isle, which is one of the islands of Lake Champlain. Its is a beautiful place. Quaker road is named for the original farmers (after the First Americans, that is) who settled here. Several original barns and farm houses still stand. To the west, the sun sets over the Adirondacks, with Lake Champlain in between. We are surrounded by mostly hay and corn fields, average amounts of rural development (such as houses), wildlife, and great neighbors. Up the street, a family grows pick your own blueberries, and next door, our friends are growing 300 raspberry bushes!Our farm consists of 15 acres on one side of Quaker road, and 15 on the other side, just a bit down the street from each other. All are in the organic certification. All of our land is either pasture or in veggie cultivation. The veggie side of the farm is on the land of our friend Roy Newton. On this property, we have a "amish style" shed for a farmstand, a 21x48 greenhouse, a 24x60 hoophouse, a new 30 X 72 hoophouse for season extension crops, a small 14 X 48 pepper hoophouse, and all of our cultivated fields. Roy's house is also on this land.Just down the way, we have our more modern barn that houses our tractor, tools, equipment, etc., as well as hay and sheep at certain times of year. Behind this, to the north, is the remaining pasture land that the sheep graze and where we cut hay. This where the yurt like tents will be going. We also have a small patch of woods on this land.

Farm Operation:
Adam works full time, but during the summer is able to take considerable amounts of time off. Christine works full time on the farm and always has Sadie and Delia tagging along. We grow a fairly wide variety of mixed veggies as you would expect for a csa. We love to grow garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, pac choi, kale, basil...well...we love growing it all. Each year we try something new or to improve how we grow things. We have about 3.5 acres under cultivation. This is increasing as we try to incorporate longer cover crop rotations for soil health. We do everything either by hand or with the help of our 30 hp tractor and borrowed equipment here and there. We use a lot of tractor- formed raised beds. We will be trying to do more weeding with the tractor this year.We have a 50 family CSA and sell at two local farmer's markets, as well as a local natural foods market. We also have an honor system farmstand on site.We have about 170 pastured certified organic laying hens, and we usually do at least one round of pastured broilers per summer. We hope to increase our numbers of both eggs and pastured poultry as we improve our systems.In addition, we have 9 sheep: one icelandic ewe, one shetland ewe, and 7 border-leceister romneys. We raise them for their fiber and their positive effect on the land. We will grow this herd to about 20 in the coming years. We are hoping to build some grant funded fencing and water infrastructure this year to help facilitate rotational grazing and hay land management.We are also hoping to build a new hoophouse designed to extend our seasons at both ends. The fencing and hoophouse would both be through a large NRCS grant.

Work Expectations:
We are looking for apprentices who are able to lift at least 50 lbs on a daily basis. We need people who are able to put their heart in to their work and do their work with integrity and at at a pretty good pace. Farm work is strenuous, hot, and at times very tedious. Interns need to be able to pace themselves, take care of their bodies, and communicate when they need a break. Our work pace/day is sane, and we want the experience to be sustainable for everyone. Most of all, we want to have fun and have a team/community approach to our work.

5 Topic Areas of Expertise:
1. Starting and growing a community supported agriculture program.2. Soil fertility management. (crop rotation, cover crops, testing, planning).3. Growing crops from seed to harvest, including seed selection, greenhouse culture, bed preparation, transplanting/direct seeding, fertility, cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest handling.4. Direct and wholesale marketing of organic produce and the "business side" of farming.5. Raising chickens for meat and eggs using organic methods.6. We are not "experts", but we will be caring for our sheep, having them bred, and putting up hay for them. Apprentices will learn about basic animal care.7. Canning for home use 8. Learning how to put up (and actually can, freeze and dehydrate) all your own food for the winter.

Instruction and Training:
Much of the work and learning of apprentices will be side by side with us, through conversation, shared ideas around planning a day or a crop, and through a whole lot of demonstration of what we do and how we do it. This will be hands-on learning most of the time. We will supply apprentices with reading materials that have been useful to us, provide opportunities for "Q&A" sessions, conduct impromptu field meetings, and arrange for apprentices to learn about any special area of farming they are interested in. We want apprentices to have the freedom to take initiative once they feel they "get it" so that they are able to take on a few responsibilities on the farm. Overall, they will find us to be supportive, available, and concerned about the quality of their learning on our farm. Two likely additional projects: installing fence/water system for the sheep and building a new gothic style hoophouse.

Support for Learning:
Attend NOFA Vermont workshops as part of paid work
Time off to attend NOFA Vermont workshops
Attend other organizations’ workshops
Provide transportation
Support and create local networking opportunities for apprentice
Host an apprentice workshop

Interested applicants should send us an email at harmonyvt@yahoo.com and fill out the apprentice application at www.nofavt.org. We can provide academic credit if needed. We are currently looking for 2 interns that can stay through the end of the season