Farm interns graduate ready to work on a sustainable mixed-vegetable farm as a Crew Member. Some people use this program to decide whether to pursue a future in farming. Still others use this program to gain skills that they use in their careers as educators, chefs, gardeners, social workers and at non-profit organizations.
We seek to train an inclusive next generation of farmers. Nationwide, 95% of farmers are white, 85% of farmers are men, and the average age of a farmer is 60-years-old, Many other groups are underrepresented. This apprenticeship program seeks to decrease these disparities in representation caused by systems supporting white supremacy, colonialism, racism, capitalism and sexism. Therefore, we encourage Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, LGBTQ2SIA people, religious minorities, recent migrants/refugees, , and people from different generational and economic backgrounds to apply. This farm apprenticeship program is designed for people with little or no experience farming. Farm apprentices spend much of their time being closely mentored by our two farm co-managers. Bryan and David. Both are white cis-men; one is gay and the other bisexual. They are constantly considering how their positionality and privilege may impact the apprentices’ experience. Overall, Zenger Farm is a multi-racial space, and we are deeply engaged in conversations around issues of identity and belonging.
We seek to model an economically-viable alternative to “conventional agriculture.” We adopt a view of food justice. Farms should be responsible and accountable members of their communities. Farms should improve community resilience and self-reliance. Farms should foster connections with the land. We seek to reform conventional farming practices that depend heavily on machinery, chemicals and exploited labor. Conventional agriculture damages land, air and water; harms the health of communities that consume the food grown; and harms the workers who feed our communities.
Farm Apprentices care for four acres of diversified vegetable crops and fruit orchards. Zenger Farm is certified organic. We grow over 150 varieties of vegetables on just over two acres where we spend the vast majority of our time. We also care for young orchards which are not producing fruit yet.
We seek to operate a farm that models social justice and economic viability. We earned $125,000 from the distribution of produce in 2020. 80% of our produce went to our CSA, with 120 shares picked up by members at the farm and 60 shares picked up by patients at the nearby Multnomah County Mid County Health Center (which operates as a bilingual English/Spanish pick-up site). Another 10% of our produce went to local food justice nonprofits and the final 10% of our produce was sold to local restaurants. Our farming operation allows us to model innovative practices. In one such program, we educated over 500 other CSA farmers how to accept SNAP payment. We have since set up a system to provide centralized SNAP processing for over 50 Oregon CSA farms. In another such program, for-profit CSA farms are paired with low-income health clinics providing subsidized shares to patients with diet-related illnesses, called CSA Partnerships for Health.
The core of the Zenger Farm Crew consists of two experienced farm co-managers and four full-season farm apprentices. Four short-season interns will join the crew 2 days/week for 8 weeks in the Summer and again in the Fall. Farm apprentices spend much of their time closely mentored by our two farm co-managers. Similarly, farm apprentices will work closely with, mentor and teach the farm interns. Additionally, farm apprentices will lead volunteers and other work parties.
Education of the body is the core component of this apprenticeship. We teach apprentices the underlying ergonomics of farm work. Proper ergonomics are essential for an economically-viable farm. Your speed, stamina and efficiency will allow you to operate your own farm and compete when other farms lower their costs with machinery, chemicals, and exploited labor.
We provide an immersive and comprehensive education in farming. Farm apprentices will have direct experience in all aspects of our farming operation, taking turns being responsible for every aspect. The farm apprenticeship includes over 40 hours of classroom instruction in topics such as crop planning, irrigation, seed saving, soil fertility, enterprise budgeting, etc. Farm apprentices will be provided additional opportunities to attend classes and tours at other local farms. While apprentices will occasionally participate in other programming at Zenger Farm (youth education and community engagement), the vast majority of their time is spent farming.
We seek to provide a compassionate education. Zenger Farm recognizes that many people, disproportionately Black, Indigenous and Latinx folks, have historical and current traumas related to land access and agricultural work. We also recognize that t While recognizing our current limitations, we strive to create as much of a supportive environment as possible through mindfulness, shared responsibility, use of Nonviolent Communication, regular check-ins, open feedback (both given and received), and Popular Education methods. Together, we examine the root causes of injustice in our food system with facilitated discussions prompted by readings, talks, videos and personal stories shared by the apprentices, as well as visits with other community members and leaders.
• Wednesday and Thursday, 8 hours/day. There are two different cohorts, one in summer and one in fall.
• Summer: June 16th – August 4th
• Fall: August 25th – October 14th
• Field Work: Most field work at Zenger Farm is done by hand, and includes seeding, planting, weeding, watering, trellising, harvesting, hauling, washing, and packing produce for sale
• General Farm Maintenance: Tool and equipment care, farm and property upkeep
• Summer and Fall tasks will differ, please inquire for more information
• Interest in gardening or farming.
• Ability to lift and carry 50 pounds, farm outdoors in all weather conditions and perform the above responsibilities.
• Attitude: Positive, driven, flexible and team-oriented.
This is an unpaid volunteer internship, room and board are not provided
• Hands-on training in small-scale, sustainable farming practices
• 10 hours workshop instruction in sustainable farming practices
• 1 CSA share during internship dates
You can apply online or by US mail. Please do not submit your application by email.
• Apply online at zengerfarm.org/portland-farm-internship or
• Print and mail the online application to: Zenger Farm, Attn: David Wills-Ehlers, Farming Apprenticeship, 11741 SE Foster Rd. Portland, OR 97266.
Contact David Wills-Ehlers (email@example.com) with any questions, but please do not submit your application by email.
We will begin reviewing applications on May 1st for the summer cohort, and on July 1st for the fall cohort.