Residential Apprenticeship

Location: 
Peterborough, NH
Publication Date: 
Thursday, January 24, 2013 (All day)
Company Name: 
Walkabout Farm
Contact Information: 
Todd Horner
  1. The Farm

Walkabout Farm is a small organic farm with two locations in Peterborough, NH. We lease land from and work in partnership with a co-housing community, Nubanusit Neighborhood and Farm, and a K-8 school, the Well School. We grow over a hundred varieties of vegetables and herbs, along with fruit, flowers, and, in 2013, a few pigs. We distribute what we raise primarily through our community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which, this year, will have about eighty members. Our members include residents of NNF, Well School staff, as well as members of the general public. In addition to supporting the farm through membership fees, members often elect to help in the gardens and in the farm store.

  1. The Apprenticeship

a. What you’ll learn

Apprentices coming to the farm with little or no farming background will learn, first and foremost, horticultural basics. Lessons learned on the farm include, but are not limited to: plant taxonomy, raising seedlings, direct sowing and transplanting techniques, introductory soil science, garden entomology, basic plant physiology, irrigation and on- farm water management, organic soil-building practices, harvesting techniques, season extension, garden planning techniques, variety selection. We’ll be using the ATTRA Farm Internship Curriculum and Handbook as our framework, working to ensure that apprentices come away from the season with a solid foundation in all the critical components of organic vegetable production.

Although organic vegetable production constitutes the core of what apprentices will learn, apprentices with more experience, special interests, or particular ambitions will find opportunities to learn much more. Seed saving, food preservation, farm carpentry,

working with farm tools, event coordination, working with volunteers, community activism, farm-based education, orchard management, pig husbandry are just some of the skills apprentices could learn. As with most learning opportunities, enthusiasm, active engagement, and asking lots of questions yield a fruitful education.

Considering Walkabout Farm’s unique arrangement—integration with both a co- housing community and a school—apprentices will have ample opportunity to learn about farm-neighborhood and farm-school integration.

Pending funding, two major projects on the docket for 2013 are: (1) The construction of a 2100 sq. foot hoop house and (2) implementation of an NRCS conservation contract that includes a unique, reduced tillage technique. Apprentices will be involved with both projects.

The farm is also committed to providing apprentices opportunity to attend one of the major agricultural events in the area (e.g. MOFGA, in Unity, ME or the NOFA summer conference in Amherst, MA).

  1. How we’ll work

Apprentices should expect to work five days a week in the garden. Work will generally begin at 9am and end at 5pm, except on CSA pick-up days (Sundays and Wednesdays, starting in June). On pick-up days, we start at 6-7am (depending on the time of year), in order to harvest highly perishable greens before the sun induces wilt. On harvest days, we’ll cut out at 4pm, depending on the week’s schedule. We take an hour break for lunch, and a short breakfast break on harvest mornings.

Farm staff will rotate pig chores on a weekly basis, which primarily entails feeding the few pigs we keep two times a day.

With due notice, apprentices may take off five days over the course of the season. The further in advance apprentices seek to schedule time off, the easier the request will be to accommodate.

  1. What we look for in an apprentice.
    1.                                 i.            Apprentices who can commit to the entire growing season (early April through October) are given preference.
    2.                               ii.            Dependability, especially showing up for work on time.
    3.                             iii.            Willingness to work outside, even when our capricious New England climate

takes a turn for the worse. We hope for sun and mild weather, but we’ll work

through pouring rain, torrid afternoons, and frostbitten mornings.

  1.                             iv.            The ability to lift 50 lbs. on a repeated basis.
  2.       v.            The ability to work independently and as part of a team. A good sense of humor! The ability to have fun under less than ideal conditions.
  3.     vi.            Comfort managing volunteers.
  4.   vii.            A valid driver’s license. Ability to drive manual transmission is highly preferred.

Bringing a car is recommended but not required.

  1. Accommodations

Apprentices each live in their own small cabin, or “casita,” in the eco-village abutting the Well School, where many of the school faculty and staff live. They’ll have access to the village common kitchen and bathroom facilities. The village is quite beautiful and a great setting for residential apprentices.

Apprentices are expected to respect common space, pitching in to keep the kitchen and bathrooms tidy.

  1. Compensation

Along with aforementioned accommodations, apprentices will receive farm produce, and a monthly stipend of $300-400/month, depending on experience.

There will also be some opportunity for apprentices to work on special projects for an hourly wage. Those seeking extra paid work are likely to find opportunities to pick up hours through the farm’s membership, host communities, and nearby farms.

  1. Surrounding Area

The Monadnock Region of New Hampshire is a beautiful area to stay during the growing season. With Mt. Monadnock to the southwest, the Wapack National Wildlife refuge to the east, and the Pitcher Mountain blueberry fields to the north, outdoorspeople don’t have to search far for great hiking terrain. A region of many rivers and lakes, swimming and boating opportunities are plentiful. For those who don’t mind the climbs, the area is amazing biking country.

The Well School is located about three miles from downtown Peterborough. Nubanusit is just over one mile from the center of town. For a small New England town, Peterborough offers a lot in the way of cultural events: the MacDowell downtown lectures, a movie theater, Greenerborough (Peterborough’s annual sustainable living expo), Peterborough Grange meetings and events are just some examples.

  1. How to apply

If, after reading the above description, you think an apprenticeship at Walkabout Farm might be for your, please send a cover letter and resume to farm Todd Horner at

todd@walkaboutfarm.org. Please note that your application moves forward, you’ll be asked to provide contact information for two professional references and one personal reference. Also, since Walkabout Farm works in conjunction with a school, all candidates must undergo a background check prior to hire.