Apprenticeships at Shakefork Community Farm
Apprenticeship Starts: April 1st, 2013
Apprenticeship Ends: December 9th, 2013
Number of Interns: 3
App Deadline: we accept applications from Thanksgiving 2012 until the positions are filled
Minimum Length of Stay: Full Season
Shakefork Community Farm is a uniquely diversified farm on 85 acres alongside the Van Duzen River in Humboldt County, Northern California. Of the 15 acres we cultivate, a significant portion is dedicated to the growing of small grains - including wheat, rye, barley, oats, dent corn, buckwheat, flax, and some beans. These are primarily distributed whole, cracked, and floured through our 65-member grain CSA, as well as at our local farmer’s markets. We mill on-site for our once-monthly grain share distributions. We also grow oats and barley for our livestock. In addition to grain, we farm up to two acres of mixed vegetables, with a special focus on storage crops such as onions, potatoes, and winter squash. We plant a flower garden and berry patch for our vegetable CSA members and offer a U-Pick pumpkin patch to the public in October. We strive to employ better-than-organic standards in our practices.
We keep a variety of livestock at Shakefork Community Farm. Pastured poultry remains a significant focus. We raise about 1500 birds a year and do all of our slaughtering and butchering on-site, approximately every 2 to 3 weeks from May through November. We offer whole broilers and a selection of cuts via direct sales at farmer’s markets. Working with our poultry - from day old chicks to the roasted chicken at the dinner table - is an important part of what apprentices do. In 2012 we will offer eggs and Thanksgiving turkeys as well. Other livestock include a motley crew of free-ranging ducks, a small dairy goatherd, sheep, and cattle, including two calves that we’re training as oxen!
We manage two separate CSAs – one for veggies and one for grain. Veggie shareholders pick up their weekly produce at our farm in Carlotta from June through October. Grain share distributions are monthly and held at a friend’s farm in the nearby town of Arcata. We also sell at three weekly Farmer’s Markets. We are community minded and enjoy inviting folks to the farm. We regularly host big work parties (aka “crop mobs”), as well as elementary classes for farm-to-school education days in the spring and late fall.
We eat primarily from the foods that we grow on the farm and provide for almost all of our own grain, meat and vegetable needs. For meat we raise pastured poultry and pork (the later periodically), lamb, and goats. We also milk 4-6 goats, from February through November, and make kefir, yogurt, and a variety of cheeses. We added a layer flock in November 2011 and will have our own chicken (and duck) eggs for the 2012 season.
Several lunches during the workweek are communal, with everyone taking his or her turn to prepare food for the group. Breakfasts and dinners are generally prepared independently, although we will often spontaneously share meals. Your enthusiasm for the kitchen arts and good food will serve you well here. The enjoyment of food is central to our vision of a sustainable farm-life, so we do our best to take the time needed to prepare good food by hand, fresh from the farm with committed regularity. Kevin makes his all-rye sourdough weekly and Melanie loves to bake whole grain treats; we also seasonally make kraut, pickles, stocks, sausage, jerky, and cure bacon. What we don’t raise ourselves, we try to trade for with other farming friends at the markets. Twice monthly trips to the local Co-op supplement our largely farm-based diet.
We cannot accommodate vegetarians or vegans.
We consider the Shakefork experience to be an advanced apprenticeship. Although it is not necessary that you have previous farming experience, we will give special consideration to those that do. We have also found that other fast-paced, high-intensity jobs such as working in a kitchen or waiting tables can prepare you well for what farming requires. We do most of our seeding, transplanting, weeding, thinning, and harvesting by hand, which requires a goodly amount of physical strength and stamina. You must be able to lift at least 50 lbs, if not more. Keep in mind that the work of the season will make you stronger!
We are looking for dedicated individuals highly motivated to work quickly and efficiently by themselves and as part of a team. A good sense of humor comes in handy, as well as a high degree of flexibility. When things get busy and stressful, it is important to practice clear communication, compassion, and forgiveness. Apprentices must be willing and able to work hard, take initiative, be reliable and responsible, and follow directions. Our standards are high and an innate attention to detail and organizational talent are appreciated. We love what we do and enjoy our long days on the land, but also recognize that farm work is not for everyone. Please be honest with yourself about your capacities and life goals!
We prioritize applicants who have already received some basic agricultural training and those who are able to visit the farm before committing to a full season with us. That said, all applicants will be considered.
Education at our farm is primarily through hands-on experience. We strive to incorporate regular group field walks, during which we take a closer look at some aspect of the farm. Supplemental reading will be encouraged, and we may meet as a group to discuss specific “assigned” readings. We will also visit at least one or two other local farms as a group. We LOVE farm field trips!!!!
Apprentices can expect to work long hours and learn about all aspects of farm work throughout the season. Working with our diverse livestock will be a familiar and consistent part of your daily rhythms. You will become skilled at milking goats, moving chicken tractors, the evisceration and breakdown of chickens, and moving fences for our daily pasture rotations, among other things. You will also spend a considerable amount of your time in the vegetable garden, preparing beds, planting, weeding, and harvesting. Machines such as our walk-behind BCS tiller and mechanical seed cleaner will become very familiar to you. The grain production is a little more hands-off than the veggies, but there will be opportunities to assist with grain planting, harvest, post-harvest seed cleaning, and milling and packaging for sale and distribution.
The work at Shakefork Community Farm is incredibly diverse, and you can expect the tasks to vary considerably from day to day and week to week throughout the season.
We offer room and board, plus a weekly stipend of $100. Apprentices can eat freely from what we produce on the farm, and we provide for any additional staples needed.
Apprentices will have their own 200 sq ft yome (a cross between a yurt and a dome – see redskyshelters.com or our website for details) for sleeping and personal space. Although aesthetically pleasing and quite structurally solid, the walls are tent-like and un-insulated. One light and one outlet per yome are solar powered. Small propane heaters are provided for conscientious, moderate use in the colder months (April and November).
We are currently constructing a semi-outdoor communal kitchen space that will be the farm hearth and provide cooking space for apprentices. It will be equipped with a commercial sink, gas range, and fridge/freezer, as well as all the basic kitchen stuff – cast iron pots, stainless steel pans, plates, bowls, knives, etc. More amenities will be added throughout the seasons as our resources allow. Expect clean, simple, and rustic.
We currently share our home shower and laundry facilities with apprentices, with some reasonable time restrictions. We encourage line drying whenever possible to conserve energy. We hope to replace the portapotty with a composting toilet facility as soon as we can. Wireless satellite internet service is available; cell phone reception is spotty (better with some phones) and we have no landline. Please provide your own phone and computer. A personal vehicle is a definite plus as the farm is a 20-minute drive from the nearest town of Fortuna and 45 minutes from the college town of Arcata. Our state highway is not safe to bike on.
Preferred Method of Contact:
Email is preferred. Phone is OK too, but expect to leave a message. We’ll get back to you!
At Shakefork Community Farm, there is little to no boundary drawn between work and life. Our love of farming and our will to farm are deeply rooted in a profound and transformative lifestyle commitment, and we remain drawn to sharing a full-immersion experience with other would-be farmers. The stuff of sustaining life is our work and our play, and we value the simple agrarian lifestyle that we’ve connected with through our farming.
As you consider our apprenticeship offerings, please keep in mind that we are located on a rural highway, a drive away from the nearest town. We don’t have a television and cell phone reception can be spotty. We are looking for apprentices who are energized by a land-based lifestyle. All motivated, hard-working, independent, detail-oriented people ready to make a heartfelt commitment to our farm for the full season are encouraged to apply. You'll work harder than you ever have before, while cultivating new skills, refining old ones, and fully immersing yourself in a farm-based lifestyle. It’s a beautiful thing, and we are excited to share our passion with you!
Please contact us directly for our full apprenticeship application!!!
The 2012 Shakefork farm crew - from the left, Apprentices Andrew, Kelly, and Sami and Farmers Melanie & Kevin.