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Philadelphia Community Farm

North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program > Participating Mentor Farms

Philadelphia Community Farm is a biodynamic CSA farm and anthroposophically based intentional community, located near Osceola, Wisconsin and adjacent to a National Park--the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Our non-profit's mission: restoring health and vitality to people, animals, plants and the earth.  "Philadelphia" refers to the spirit of 'brotherly love' by which we seek to live and work. At this time our resident community includes two adults with developmental disabilities, the founding co-worker couple, Rick Hall and Verna Kragnes and a German volunteer placed through SCI (Service Civil International).  Education staff, who do not live within the community, include Dawn Spanton, who has been associated with the farm for the past 15+ years and Kelley Hagenbuch, a local herbalist.  

A major task of the community is caring for a small farm and running a CSA.  Our "community" has always included a wider circle surrounding the farm.  Locally, this means 3 additional CSA farms, all hosting interns each year, within the 6 mile Standing Cedars Farm and River Greenway that we helped to establish along the river. 1,550+ acres have been designated as a State Natural Area and are being restored to prairie and oak savannah. Our farm is 108 acres surrounded by an additional 300+ acres owned or managed by Standing Cedars. Osceola is a small town that has a farmers market and progressive goals for energy efficiency for its public facilities and schools.  We are also connected with many people from the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.  We have regularly scheduled volunteer work days throughout the summer and celebrate St. John's and Michaelmas with our members and wider circle of friends. 

We host many youth and school groups, including local Waldorf Schools, in the spring and fall.  During the summer, we have established a Healthy Families program to provide an opportunity for day visits for families with children to have experiences in garden, with eating fresh vegetables and hiking in the nearby natural areas.  A partnership with Nawayee Center School, serving native American youth in Minneapolis began about 6 years ago when we helped them to establish a school garden.  Their summer school program has had a 400% increase in students completing summer school credits as a result.  Beginning this spring, we will deepen the partnership with Center School while hosting their students for 2 weeks of visits throughout the spring, summer and fall season and engage them in more in-depth farming/gardening experiences, including pasturing poultry.  We also have a cow and donkey currently in residence at the farm.

For our 24th season as a CSA, we will be offering a small number of Spring, Summer and Fall shares from April 15 to December 15.  A pilot of year round shares will be expanded this year by offering processed and stored vegetables and using a mobile high tunnel, hoop houses and our "whole trees greenhouse".  All vegetable production is oriented, as that of a Camphill Community garden, to allow for helpers of all ages.  While we are mechanized for a small scale vegetable operation, our forte is to accomplish the daily tasks of the garden with the help of many hands, many volunteers.  Interns/apprentices who will be most happy are those who are seeking to develop skills working with people of many different ages and abilities in a garden setting.

Apprenticeship details: We currently have openings for four apprentices who would all be involved in the garden each day, but each have an area of emphasis and leadership.   One is overall garden coordination, the second, education/volunteer coordination, third, we need a cook who would make 5-8 meals for the whole community, including visitors, each week and finally, a hearth keeper, who would assist with the care of the two adults with special needs.  All receive room, board, and a small stipend.  These internships are from March to November, however, opportunities will exist for extending the commitment through the winter of 2013-14.

Due to the fact that we are licensed for adult foster care, all interns/apprentices need to provide a police background check as a part of the application process.  We are an alcohol free environment and also restrict the use of media in public spaces such as barns, greenhouses, kitchens and gardens.  Headsets are not permitted while working, but headsets for music and computers may be used in one's room.  Most cell phones do not work on the farm, as we are tucked down in a ravine near the St. Croix River, so phone calls need to be made at the end of the driveway. The community has a strong established rhythm and daily schedule designed to provide a balance each day of rest and work since there are both the physical tasks to be accomplished and a strong social orientation due to the hosting of visitors, care of adults with special needs and so on. 

Weekly evening meetings are held with a mix of social/community building activities, to provide an opportunity for discussion on topics of mutual interest and for training that cannot be accomplished during the daytime. Community resources include bikes and canoes and occasional limited use of a car.  The nearest airport is 1 1/4 hours away in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota and there is no public transportation connecting the farm to the city.

Mentor Farmer: Verna Kragnes

Address: Box 668, Osceola, WI 54020

Phone: 715-294-4048    E-mail: pcomfarm@centurytel.net

Website: www.philadelphiacommunityfarm.org