Our CSA, Livestock and Bakery
Old Earth Farm is a diverse, small farm in the Oley Valley of Berks County, PA that practices biodynamic and organic methods. The farm is located on Old State Road, minutes from downtown Oley and several miles from downtown Reading. The 2008 growing season will be the second season for the farm and the first for the 100 member CSA. In addition to the CSA we also raise heritage meats and bake artisan breads, snacks and desserts.
Our 4 acre vegetable garden will grow an assortment of fresh veggies for 100 member-families during the 2008 growing season, May to November. We raise close to all of our own seedlings in a heated greenhouse. Attention is paid to crop rotations, cover crops and feeding the soil to support biodiversity, fertility and keep pests and diseases to a minimum.
The livestock we raise spend close to all of their time on pasture or in woods. Our goal is to ensure they have the best possible lives during their time with us. Our cows are a heritage breed from Scotland called Scottish Highlands and our pigs are an English heritage breed called Tamworths. In addition we also raise Suffolk sheep. All animals are born and bred on our farm.
Mary and Stuart Salen are the owners of Old Earth Farm and run the bakery and meat sales. Tom Paduano is the Farm Manager and is responsible for the CSA and livestock management of the farm.
Hands on Learning
I will try to teach you as much as I know about farming, however I donâ€™t know everything. You will learn mainly from hands on experience, from your own trouble shooting efforts and from hard work. It is important to be mentally present in the day to day activities of the farm; being able to observe and question will greatly benefit your time as an intern.
Group Study and Reading
In order to counterbalance the farm labor, an afternoon each week will be set aside for reading/group study. You will have the opportunity to determine which topics we cover during these sessions.
Main responsibilities will deal with the garden and vegetable production from seed to harvest. We start our seeds in a heated greenhouse during the spring and early summer months. These seedlings are watered and observed daily. They are then transplanted into the field by hand. Most of our weeding is done by hand or with hand tools and all of our harvesting is done by hand. There will also be chores such as milking the cow, feeding chickens and pigs, collecting eggs, managing cows, sheep and pigs.
The work schedule will be 5 and a half days a week. With five, nine-hour days and a half day of study. So your weekly time spent â€œworkingâ€ will be about 50 hours. This does not include weekly chores.
Due to the nature of farming your actual schedule will vary as the season progresses. For example, during the hot summer days we may start work earlier, take an extended lunch break, and come back to work later in the evening.
Stipends for 2008 will be $100 per week plus a $500 bonus for those who work for the entire season. In addition to this cash compensation food from the farm is available, such as vegetables, milk, baked goods and meats. You will be an actual employee of Old Earth Farm so you will be provided with workerâ€™s compensation. Most interns find this is enough to cover basic needs. Others prefer to supplement their stipend with savings. This is a life-style choice you will have to make.