North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program > Participating Mentor Farms

S&S HomesteadS&S Homestead Farm on Lopez Island is a fifty-acre family farm owned and operated by Henning Sehmsdorf and Elizabeth Simpson. In existence since 1970, the farm integrates growing vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers with the production of beef, dairy, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs, as well as producing animal feeds and fertilizers. The farm is managed biodynamically as an integrated, self-sufficient organism, using as few outside resources as possible. The farm produces its own animal feed, fertilizers, composts and biodynamic preparations to produce beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs and dairy products as well as fruits and vegetables. Farm environmental sustainability is assessed by estimating how closely the agricultural system resembles natural systems, and to what degree it depends on purchased and non-renewable inputs. Farm management decisions are made accordingly with the goal of being able to produce food forever. Although focused on education rather than for-profit production, farm operations are economically viable and the farm is debt-free. Food and feed self-sufficiency of the farm household are primary goals, with production surplus sold to the community through CSA and custom contract. Sales of meat, eggs and vegetables, as well as educational programs, produce enough income to provide for farm expenses, and infrastructure. The sun is the source of energy harvested through plants, animals, and an intricate water system. Through S&S Woodworks, the farm cuts and mills its own wood for farm structures. Farming procedures utilize low-cost production techniques that are environmentally friendly.

Size of farm: 50 acres (15 leased)

Diversity of produce and livestock: Beef and dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, bees; vegetables, fruit; hay, grain. The farm produces food for the farm household including interns and apprentices, and sells surplus to the local community; produces all feeds for livestock; produces all fertility inputs.

Skills that can be learned: See S&S Homestead's skills checklists.

Apprenticeship details: We offer three types of training programs:

1. Production internships (3-6 months) and apprenticeships (6-12 months, or more) in connection with the vegetable CSA. Trainees learn through full-time hands-on training, twice-weekly organizational farm meetings, and monthly farm council meetings to review budgets, annual farm plans and whole farm long-term development. If they choose, production interns have the option to participate in a curriculum of readings, weekly seminars, and research projects. Production trainees receive housing and farm-grown food in exchange for work, and a stipend paid for by the CSA.

2. Curriculum-based intern- and apprenticeships. Trainees spend mornings in hands-on training on the whole farm, the afternoons studying a curriculum of readings, writing journals, and carrying out independent research to complete a written report. Curriculum-based trainees receive room and board in exchange for work. Curriculum-based trainees have the option to receive academic credit through sponsoring schools and colleges.

3. CSA management traineeships. The program is intended to provide trainees already experienced in growing vegetables the opportunity to implement a biodynamic CSA for their own risk and profit, without having to make initial investments in land, fencing, water systems and basic infrastructure. Besides growing vegetables biodynamically, trainees learn about business and financial planning, record keeping, CSA marketing and membership management, and community outreach. CSA trainees receive housing, as well as fruit, meat and dairy foods in exchange for work on the whole farm, and they supply vegetables for themselves from the CSA. They also retain all profits from the CSA enterprise.

Work schedules: 1. Production interns and apprentices work 8 hours daily, Monday-Friday, as required by the CSA. If they wish to trade work for housing and food, they also work 8 hours (weekends) on the whole farm. 2. Curriculum-based interns and apprentices work 4 hours daily on the whole farm, plus 4 hours daily studying, writing and carrying out research. If they wish to trade work for housing and food, they also work 8 hours (weekends) on the whole farm. 3. CSA management trainees work minimally 8 hours daily, Monday-Friday, but commensurate with their profit goals may choose to work additional hours. If they wish to trade work for housing and food, they also work 8 hours (weekends) on the whole farm.

Mentor Farmers: Henning Sehmsdorf & Elizabeth Simpson

Address: 2143 Lopez Sound Road, Lopez Island, WA 98261

Phone: 360-468-3335