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Organic Farm Apprentice at Henry's Farm - 14159

Job Title: 
Organic Farm Apprentice
Henry's Farm
432 Grimm Rd.
61729 Congerville , IL ,
Job Type: 
Employment Type: 
Job Description: 

Apprentices and farm hands will take part in every aspect of small-scale, sustainable vegetable production, including raising transplants, planting, weeding, mulching, trellising, harvesting and marketing. You will leave the farm with a good grasp of the skills and knowledge needed to start your own farm; many of our former apprentices have gone on to start and successfully run their own farms.

We are strongly focused on preparing the farm and our lives for the already unfolding climate crisis, which means moving towards self-sufficiency in energy, food, and fiber. You will be involved in and learn about our transition to no-till farming with a long-term goal of relying on draft animals, our exploration of alternative energy sources to reduce and replace fossil fuels, and our experimentation with growing our own grains, sugar, cooking oil, and fiber.

Salaried farmhand positions are also available for those with prior farming experience.

Apprentices start at $400/week ($1600/month) with free housing, utilities, and food raised on the farm, with opportunities for stipend increases when deserved. Farmhands will be paid a monthly salary based on experience and abilities.

Free lodging is available in a 14 x 60 foot mobile home located on the farm. The home has a full kitchen, bathroom, living room and three bedrooms. You will share the home with the other apprentices.

The apprenticeship is meant to be a learning and training experience, not a job. As such, you won't be paid wages. You will receive a stipend every week, which should cover your living expenses while you are here. Housing is free (you won’t pay for rent, utilities, repairs, etc.) and your food bill should be next to nothing as you’ll get all the vegetables you can eat as well as any fruit, meat, grains and eggs that we grow for our own use.

Duties & Responsibilities: 

The basic categories of work are planting and transplanting, weeding, mulching, harvesting and selling. Almost all of the work is done by hand or with hand tools. I have one small tractor for tilling, making beds and some cultivation.

A day on the farm is long, hot and hard—full of sweat, pain and bugs. I love it. But most people don't. I once had someone quit after three hours and never come back. I have also had apprentices who decided to stay on for another year. One former apprentice stayed on as my farmhand and has been here for over 12 years now.

A season on the farm should feel like time spent in a foreign country. It should feel like a completely new environment. You will make the shift from a consumer of food to a producer of food. There is so much to learn, to observe, to absorb. There are the details, a rainshower of details—how to wield a hoe, how big to make a bunch of carrots, how far apart to thin the lettuce, how thick to lay the mulch, which is the tatsoi and which is the mei qing choi. The details, while overwhelming in sheer number, are relatively easy to learn and easy to teach.

Then there is the overall picture. The overall picture is harder to grasp and perhaps impossible to teach. Understanding the overall picture means having a feel for the weather, the seasons, the soil, the landscape. It means having a feel for the way nature works. Actually, I don't know what understanding the overall picture means. It is impossible to explain. The only way I know to learn about it is to become part of it. When you wake up with birds singing in the predawn and go to bed when it gets dark; when you are exposed day-long to the elements; when you are wet when it rains, oily with sweat when it is hot, shivering when it is cold; when your hands are stained with soil; when you eat what you grow—when you feel the days get longer and longer and then shorter and shorter—then you start to get a feel for the overall picture.

Education & Experience: 

For apprentices, prior work on a farm, experience with manual labor, and the use of hand tools are all valued, but not required. Prior experience is required for farmhand positions, however.

The main requirements are a willingness to work and learn, conscientiousness, honesty, stick-to-it-ness, and a positive attitude. Apprentices and farm hands are also required to have received the coronavirus vaccine.

Application Instructions: 

To apply, please fill out the following form:

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