Applications are now open and will be accepted on a rolling basis. The 2022 season will run from May 1-October 2, 2022, with a 1-month minimum stay (flexible start & end dates throughout the season).
2022 will be our 9th season welcoming interns at Unadilla Community Farm for our permaculture internship. We host interns with all levels of experience, with a commitment to sustainability and a desire to learn together how we can forge a new life independent of mainstream consumer culture. We host a cohort of 30-40 interns (ages 18-35) each season from May to early October. The program consists of 24 hands-on hours/week plus 10-12 classroom hours/week, with a 1 month minimum stay. As a 501(c)3 non-profit education center, we rely on the generous support of individual donors, foundations, and grants to cover all intern expenses including room & board, trainings, classes, and certifications, ensuring that the program is available at no cost to participants.
Our permaculture internship is more than just a beginning farmer training program. It is an immersion into a rural, off-grid sustainable way of life. Interns gain hands-on experience in no-till organic farming, regenerative agroforestry, permaculture design, natural building, foraging, plant-based cooking, food preservation, and more. Interns assist in all aspects of the farm’s free and sliding-scale veggie box program to address food insecurity in Central New York State. Through classes with staff and guest instructors, participants learn concepts such as: food safety, crop rotation, farm planning, food forest design, herbalism, native plants, fundraising, and more. NEW in 2022: We are partnering with the National Young Farmers Coalition Food Safety Fellows to offer FSMA certification for all interns, a federally-recognized food safety training that is required by law for many farms, to equip interns with the skills they need to manage a farm or start up their own.
Beyond providing hands-on training in sustainable farming and natural building to prepare interns for careers in food and farming or self-sufficient homesteading, our program is also an opportunity to learn and improve upon skills such as communal living, communication, time management, organization, leadership, and teamwork. NEW in 2022: We are partnering with trainer Miles Sherts to offer conscious communication classes as part of our program. Conscious communication focuses on listening without judgement, voicing strong feelings without blame or attack, establishing healthy boundaries that enable mutual respect, and caring for yourself while also caring for others. These critical communication skills can be applied to any type of workplace or community living, helping interns thrive in whatever path they choose.
Our internship is about divesting from mainstream consumer culture, and learning to support ourselves by growing our own produce, utilizing natural building methods to construct our infrastructure, making our own household products like soap and lotion, reviving traditional agricultural and lifestyle practices, and living in community. We equip interns with the skills to become more sustainable and self-sufficient and replicate permaculture models in their communities.
Our accredited permaculture internship has attracted interns from North & South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. College and university students in both the U.S. & abroad have earned course credits for our internship program.
COVID Update: We were able to safely carry out our internship for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, hosting 60 interns throughout the pandemic, by implementing a COVID safety plan. Interns are required to quarantine for 14 days, OR quarantine for 10 days prior to arrival + show proof of a negative COVID test after day 7. This quarantine is essential because, once on-site, interns live as a “family unit” or “pod” and no masking/social distancing is required (vs. the new CDC 5-day quarantine, which requires 5 days of masking afterwards. Masking/social distancing on-site during the internship is not feasible due to our close living quarters).
The internship schedule includes 24 hands-on hours/week plus 10-12 classroom hours/week. We ask interns to commit to a 1 month minimum stay, with the option to apply for an extension. The 2022 internship season runs from May 1-October 2 (flexible start and end dates throughout the season).
A Typical Day:
8:00am-12:00pm: Hands-On Hours: Includes vegan/vegetarian lunch prep; seeding; transplanting; irrigation; weeding; mulching; trellising; pruning; harvesting, natural building; timber framing; basic carpentry such as cutting, sanding, oiling, and assembly; lime stone masonry; firewood preparation; lawn mowing and weed whacking; no-till garden bed preparation.
12:00pm-2:00pm: Lunch Break
2:00pm-4:00pm: Classroom Time: Classes include food forest design, farm planning, fundraising, native plants, herbalism, conscious communication, and more. See the full class list below. All interns will receive a free federally-recognized FSMA food safety certification through completion of the internship.
4:00pm-10:00pm: Free Time: Swimming in the Unadilla River; dinner; board games; reading books from the farm library; walks in the woods or visiting nearby waterfalls.
On Wednesdays, we hold a “Community Class,” a weekly opportunity for interns to teach and share with their peers. Wednesday community classes have taken many forms, such as talent shows, poetry readings, story-telling, project presentations, and skill-sharing.
Starting in mid-June, we run our veggie box delivery program, providing fresh produce free and on a sliding scale to Edmeston families and local food banks. Interns participate in all aspects of the program, from production to harvesting to the wash and pack station, to gain experience in operating a “CSA-style” farm model.
Education: No formal educational experience is required. Current students can receive college/university credit for completing the internship, but being an enrolled student is not a prerequisite for our program.
Experience: We have hosted interns from a wide diversity of backgrounds. Previous farming experience is not a requirement. That being said, applicants must demonstrate previous experience that is relevant to the internship, which could take many forms, such as experience with farming/gardening, construction, landscaping, conservation work, communal living, off-grid living, etc. We do not recommend this internship as an entry point; applicants should have experience in one or more of these areas.