Mahonia Gardens is one of many host farms in the Rogue Farm Corps Internship and Apprenticeship Programs.
The RFC Internship Program is a full season entry-level residential program combining hands-on training and skills-based education in sustainable agriculture. As an intern, you will live and train full-time on a host farm, receiving up to 1,500 hours of on-farm training and learning in-depth skills from your mentor. Your residential farm training experience is combined with farm tours, classes, and discussion circles throughout the region, as well as opportunities for independent study. Interns are exposed to a vast array of knowledge and expertise by engaging in the daily life of vibrant, agricultural communities.
Mahonia Gardens is a one-acre market garden in Sisters, Oregon. Mahonia only uses organic practices and emphasizes biodiversity. Their practices align with the idea that quality soil creates quality food. Benji Nagel and Carys Wilkins founded Mahonia Gardens in 2013, making 2020 their 8th season. Prior to that, they had worked on a variety of farms in southern Oregon and overseas, participated in full-season internships in California, and studied and practiced Permaculture principles.
They primarily cultivate in 4’-wide intensive, permanent beds resembling French-Intensive or Bio-Intensive styles, and are influenced by contemporary market gardeners like J.M. Fortier and Curtis Stone. Labor on the farm is done by hand, using broadforks and digging forks to create and maintain beds. They are not purists of any particular method or style- Benji and Carys are always learning, always trying new things, always questioning themselves and being open to the unknown.
Mahonia sells produce through a CSA program (~40 members), farmers markets, our new farm stand opening in 2020, and some restaurants and retailers.
The youngest member of the farm is Junius, who will turn 2 just before the new year of 2020. He is an absolute joy and will spend some days on the farm.
The most important aspect of the farmers' project is their commitment to lifestyle. Benji and Carys choose to farm because of the way they are able to interact with their environment and community through growing and selling food. Economic growth is not their goal; rather, they strive to maintain a balanced lifestyle and spend quality time while working enough on the farm to support themselves. Benji and Carys work hard, but we are not dawn-to-dusk farmers. Their work days are almost always kept to 8 hours, except on farmers market days. In the heat of summer, they try to work from 7-3 or even 6-2, which leaves time for lake adventures, hikes, siesta, music and dancing.
An RFC intern’s responsibilities at Mahonia Gardens will include:
General farm maintenance
Marketing: either our CSA program, our farmer’s market, or restaurants sales
Care of chickens
Processing value added product: herbal tea blends, sauerkraut and other pickling, canned or dried tomatoes, etc.
Selling at farmers market
Because their farm is very small, you all will generally be training together, side-by-side. This creates a learning environment in which you get to learn from experience and direct conversation and discussion with the farmers. The farmers can provide many books and references based on your interest. Having a desire to learn and ask questions is an important aspect of the internship process, as it benefits both sides—Banji and Carys believe we are all students of farming and learning is a continual process as we gain experience through constant practice.
Mahonia Gardens is looking for someone who has the following qualities:
Mindfulness: of self, the people around you, the environment, your actions and reactions.
Practiced communication skills: You will work and live in close quarters with the farmers and they'd like to know how you are feeling and talk openly about what and how the work is being done.
Self-motivation and work ethic: the farmers expect you to be observant and notice what needs to be done
Flexibility: plans change constantly based on weather, opportunities, or mishaps, and you need to be able to roll with it. Prioritizing is difficult on the farm with endless variables involved, and you will often see the decision making process play our right in front of you.
Physical work experience. Benji and Carys like to know that you have spent time working up a sweat doing some form of labor.
Clean drivers license: you may be asked to drive our truck to farmers market or on deliveries
Ability to lift 50 lbs. Repeatedly. ( although the farmers are trying to keep loads lighter for long-term spine sustainability).
Desire to learn: asking questions and attempting to do your best quality work will be highly regarded.
The Rogue Farm Corps Internship Program is a full season (6-8 month) entry-level residential internship program. Along with the hands-on field training you will receive from your Host Farm the Internship Program also includes classroom learning, tours of local farms, and a farm-based independent study project. Visit https://www.roguefarmcorps.org/internship for more information.
Visit our website at https://www.roguefarmcorps.org/internship for more info on the program and click on the link to apply!