Common Hands Farm, a biodynamic farm just outside of Hudson, NY (right outside of the village of Philmont) is accepting applications for our Spring 2019 apprenticeship that teaches the principles & practices of biodynamic / organic farming in the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Our farm strives to be an epicenter for young farmer training, and is well suited for aspiring young farmers who are interested in learning how a farm enterprise works, developing their sensitivity to what the land needs, and learning to be valuable players in their agricultural community.
We are a regenerative agriculture based farm using the techniques of permaculture and biodynamics to bring about long term resilience through our farming of the land, and building of healthy soils. We are located on 150 acres of prime soil, pasture, streams, forests and wetlands.
We grow 150 or more different varieties of vegetables, herbs, and fruits every year throughout the season. Our farm has a loyal and strong relationship with our CSA members, who we supply weekly June-November at local farmers markets. We also provide food to many of the area’s farm to table restaurants, from Albany to New York City.
Our farm integrates pigs, ducks and chickens into the landscape for the production of eggs and meat as well as their contribution to the fertility cycle. On top of our work on the farm, we are also a key member-owner in our town and region’s pioneering producer-owned Co-op, Market, cafe and 20c licensed farm product kitchen. Working on our farm and in our Co-op is a great opportunity to learn many aspects of how small organic farms and local food systems work.
We offer two programs for young farmers:
Spring Apprenticeship & Fall Apprenticeship
*with the possibility of a full-season apprenticeship that combines the two
This is our 8th year taking a group of beginning farmers on a journey through every aspect of a farm season, learning to think, act and work like a farmer. This program requires a dedication to living the lifestyle of a farmer and become accustomed to the many demands inherent to this profession, while working and learning alongside experienced farmers.
The spring apprenticeship begins in April and the fall apprenticeship begins in September. Both of the programs are 6 week intensive learning and working experiences.
During the first month of the apprenticeship each participant embarks on a personal journey of becoming an Agri-Culturalist. This includes the basic art and science of agricultural enterprise, and building strong and resilient carbon cycles in our soils.
The apprenticeship is an intensive yet rewarding development of oneself in regards to nature and the surrounding world. This often involves shedding prior beliefs in favor of a more holistic worldview and a renewed sense of the Human being’s role in nature and our planet. Some of the topics we discuss and learn include:
-Introduction and Brief History of Agriculture
-Core Principles behind Sustainable and Regenerative Farming
-Biodynamic Agriculture Styles
-Introduction to Permaculture Principles
-Land Observation and Land/Ecosystem Awareness-based Meditation
-Introduction to Permaculture Design
-Greenhouse Management and Planting Skills
-Biochemical Plant Growth Sequences
-Holistic Farmland Management
-Plant Species and Breeding
-Cover-Cropping and Crop Rotations
-Introduction to Farm Equipment
-Introductory Grazing and Animal Management
-Introduction to Biodynamic Grains, Milling, and Bread-Making
-Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Community Models
-Natural building techniques and other farm construction
Being an aspiring farmer is like being an aspiring athlete, it takes constant training and refinement to achieve your optimum performance with the most ease. We expect all apprentices to challenge themselves physically in this aspect of the work.
Throughout the season we do labor trades with neighboring organic farms, we take some field trips to broaden our agricultural horizons, and we participate in as many local learning opportunities as possible.
Spring Apprentices can opt to stay for the full season after the 6 week learning program, and work and learn through November.
Apprentices who stay for a full season must understand that the work can be hard at times and demand all of your time and energy for a number of weeks at the peak of the season. We expect all of our full season apprentices to commit to the seasons entirety which ends the week before Thanksgiving. We allow for some time off throughout the season, but the nature of farming is that one must be present for most of the peak season, saving the big rest and recoup for the end of the year when the work is done. As a group we plan our time-off so that we are never short-handed in the field.
Enhancing soil through bed prep and fertilisation, cover cropping, and building soil humates.
Making biodynamic compost
Soil cultivation, weeding and weed control
Everything, from planting seeds to harvesting healthy vegetables
Managing pests and diseases
Irrigation and water management
Processing, Handling, and Distributing Produce
Processing orders for local restaurants and retailers,
Packaging, bunching, and storage methods
Delivering and shipping
Creating healthy community:
Attending at least 1 of our 3 weekly farmers markets as well as providing high quality produce with lots of options to our CSA members, and interacting with our consumer base on how to prepare their food, and how to eat well
Season long apprentices must be honest, open, respectful, driven by learning and a serious desire to dedicate your life of a full time basis to farming. You must be ready to work hard and keep a positive attitude. A farm season is a marathon of sorts, and nobody completes it without being a completely transformed individual who is ready to meet any challenge with competency and newfound skills. If farming is for you, this situation will renew and refresh you.
We do not expect that you have a full season farming experience prior, but you must have at least one short term, or part time farming experience in the past. When committing to an entire farming season, one must have some experience of the farming life and what it demands of us.
How to apply
If our farm and our learning programs seem to be right for you, and you would like to be a part of what we are creating and growing, we look forward to hearing from you, and hearing about you.
We are looking for people who are serious about learning to farm, and are considering having, or running a farm of their own someday. Moreover, we are looking for people who are passionate about regenerating the earth through new forms of agriculture, and new forms of community engagement.
A current and brief resume
A personal cover letter about you that incorporates the following questions:
We want to know what drives you to farm, and what your goals are with the apprenticeship.
We are interested to know about your past work experience, and how you would bring your own skills and passions to your work on our farm.
Tell us about your past farming experiences, what you learned from them. Reflecting on these experiences, why would you choose our farm as your next venture?
How do you relate to the communities you live and work in?
Do you share space well with others?
How do you see yourself in a peer-run learning/housing situation?
Tell us a bit about your work ethic. What are your strengths and weaknesses in general work environment?
If able, name any specific skills you feel would benefit our farm or community.
Do you have experience cooking and preparing food for large groups of people?
Do you have experience with biodynamic farming? If you are unfamiliar with it, look it up and tell us a little bit about what you think of the idea.
We look forward to hearing from you and building a strong, caring, and co creative team!