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Apprenticeship Program

20-Month Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship Program

We are now hiring for a 2022 Farmer Apprenticeship - a 20 month paid farmer educational program. See below for details and how to apply. Position runs from March 2022-November 2023.

About The Farm

Founded in 2003, Pennypack Farm is a 501(c)3 non-profit diversified vegetable farm growing with organic and regenerative practices in Horsham, PA (eastern Montgomery County). The work we do on the farm is centered around our mission to Grow, Give, and Teach.

 

Grow: Growing on 13 acres, we run a 380-member Summer CSA from the end of May through early November and a 180-member Winter CSA from late November through early March. We also attend the Ambler Farmers’ Market weekly. We grow over 150 different varieties of 60 different crops, aiming to provide our community with high quality and nutrient-dense produce consistently throughout the year. Building our soil’s health and fertility is the foundation of our farming practices, and we strive to be good stewards of the land by using regenerative methods to ensure the farm’s productivity for many years to come. 

 

Give: An integral piece of our farm’s mission is increasing accessibility to high quality organically grown, local produce in our community. As part of our Produce Giving Program we donate produce weekly to four different food pantry partners and also work with other local hunger relief organizations throughout the year. In 2020, we donated 20,000 lbs of produce to our community as part of this program. 


Teach: The farm focuses on educating the next generation of farmers through our summer internship and apprenticeship programs. We also teach our community the importance of sustainable, locally grown food through volunteer opportunities, weekly newsletters, and workshops.

 

About Our Apprenticeship Program

Our Farmer Apprenticeship Program is designed to provide the necessary training to those wishing to pursue organic/sustainable farming as a livelihood, and graduates of the apprenticeship have the necessary skills to manage a farm. This season will mark our eleventh class of apprentices. Many of our graduates have continued on to successful careers in agriculture with some moving into management positions on other farms. 

 

Apprentices participate in all aspects of the farming operation over the course of two summer seasons and one winter season. As an important part of the farm crew, apprentices work in all aspects of our farming operation including crop planning, planting, growing, organic pest and weed control, irrigation, and harvesting. Apprentices also receive extensive tractor training including bed prep, cultivation, tractor repair, and maintenance.In the winter, there is additional focus on operations like crop planning, seed and supply orders, marketing strategies, and planning improvements to our farming systems. In addition to hands-on work, we have developed a supplemental curriculum with readings and more formal learning sessions throughout the program. These topics include irrigation, weed management, soil health, cover cropping, and a deep dive with three seminars about the control of insect pests and crop diseases. 

 

During their second year, apprentices take on more responsibility and develop their management skills through leadership opportunities. The second year apprentice oversees our robust donation giving program, coordinating produce pickups and packing the produce for our food pantry partners. We also facilitate our second-year apprentices in building their knowledge of ‘big picture’ farm operations. In this year apprentices learn to consider the needs of crops as they are growing and the important deadlines of turning over crops throughout the season. 

 

Compensation and Benefits:

 

  • Compensation is a stipend of $2,500 per month (paid twice a month) with an increase in January of the second year, and an incentive payment on farmer’s market sales. 

  • Benefits also include weekly seasonal produce, paid time off, a $125 annual gear / clothing reimbursement, and attendance at the annual PASA conference.

  • On-the-job training with a comprehensive supplemental curriculum.

 


Job Details & Requirements:

 

Ideal candidates have at least one season of farming experience and have the desire and aspiration to acquire the necessary skills and experience to pursue a career in organic agriculture. Farming is by nature very demanding physically and mentally, and candidates should be invested in pursuing a farming lifestyle. Candidates must be comfortable working long hours in all types of weather. Weekend work is expected. 
Expectations:

 

In our main season of farming (April - November) our farm crew works Monday-Friday 7 AM - 5/6 PM with an hour for lunch (on average 45-55 working hours per week not including lunch hours).

 

In late November to March, farm crew works Monday-Friday 8 AM - 4 PM (on average 35-40 working hours per week not including lunch hours).

 

Weekend duties rotate among farm staff throughout the year:

  • ​During the Main Season (April-November): A half-day of farm tasks on Saturday mornings (7:30-11:30am), or attending Saturday morning farmers’ market, and a.m./p.m. watering duties on both Saturday and Sunday (about 1 hour of work each day). Apprentices are usually involved in one or more of these duties up to 3 weekends a month, though this fluctuates seasonally. 

  • During the Winter Season (November-March): On rotation with other staff, apprentices will help maintain winter crops on Saturday and Sunday mornings (9-10 AM) and afternoons (3:30-4:30 PM) weather depending.

- Must be able to lift 50 lbs. and kneel, walk, bend, for long periods of time

- Must be willing to work in all weather conditions

- Must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation: Employees will be driving tractors, farm vehicles on supply runs, and taking produce to farmer's market weekly in farm vehicles. 

- Must pass a criminal background check and child abuse clearance.

 

The farm is located in Horsham, PA, about 45 minutes by car from Philadelphia. Unfortunately there is no easy public transit and having your own transportation is strongly recommended.

 

 

 

 

What Makes Our Program Unique?

 

Community

Pennypack Farm is a non-profit, community centered organization focused on making connections. We have a robust community of people on the farm regularly. Our volunteer and workshare members are an integral part of the farm’s operation and the farm staff works closely with them on a regular basis. We have 30 workshares in the summer that help us harvest for CSA over the course of each week, and we also host our CSA members as they volunteer their time fulfilling their required hours of service. In addition, many corporate groups come to the farm for service days. The welcoming nature of the farm supports a network of people that work together to fulfill our mission.

Soil Health

We believe that soil health is the foundation of regenerative agriculture and our soil health program involves detailed soil fertility practices and innovative cover cropping practices in all four seasons. Apprentices will work closely with the farm managers to learn about and facilitate soil health on the farm.

 

Impact

Our efforts on the farm every day directly impact our neighbors. In our CSA we provide sustainable locally grown produce to 400 families during the summer and 180 families in the winter. We also donate produce to our food pantry partners on a weekly basis. We partner with other local community organizations to widen our reach and work towards food accessibility in our area. 

 

Education 

The readings, seminars, and discussions in our apprentice curriculum are designed to dig deeper into the “whys” and “hows” of what we do on the farm. These provide apprentices with knowledge of the behind-the-scenes workings of the farm ecosystem, understanding all the parts of our growing plans. Working with us during the 20 month apprenticeship you will gain insight into growing throughout both the summer and winter months. Apprentices are also encouraged to attend conferences such as the one held be PASA every February. 

 

Learning in a Supported Environment

With the support of our successful systems and guidance from staff, apprentices practice problem solving, management, and responsibility in a supportive environment. They are encouraged to take on leadership roles to develop management skills and are supported in cultivating an understanding of big picture goals on the farm.

 

TO APPLY:

If you are interested in applying for PFEC’s Apprentice Program, please email Farm Manager Kirstie Jones at jobs@pennypackfarm.org and include:

  1. Subject line: Apprenticeship Application

  2. Your resume

  3. Cover letter answering the following questions:

    1. ​Why has sustainable agriculture piqued your interest?

    2. Why Pennypack Farm's apprenticeship?

    3. Tell us about any relevant experience.

    4. How do you think spending 20 months at Pennypack Farm will affect your future?

    5. What will you bring to the apprenticeship?

    6. Anything more we should know about you? Any interesting talents, hobbies?

 

No phone calls please.

Pennypack Farm is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. PFEC encourages women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ applicants. PFEC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected factor.

2020-2021 Apprentices

Casey Cellar
Shannon Wichmann

Graduates

  • 2020 - Sam Horner
  • 2019 - Alexis Adelsberger
  • 2018 - Chelsea Mackie
  • 2017 - Stephanie Jones
  • 2016 - Kirstie Jones
  • 2016 - Ryan Hogan
  • 2015 - Emilyn Fox
  • 2015 - Jenny Moore
  • 2014 - Lauren Sadler 
 

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