Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Seeking applicants for 2016 Apprenticeship

Wellspring Forest Farm is seeking part-time apprentices for our agroforestry farm in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Positions ideally run from June 1 to Oct 1 (end dates are flexible) and require a commitment of 2 full days of work on farm each week, a share in daily farm chores, and attendance at orientation June 6 -8. Apprentices can camp onsite or commute to the farm.

This 4-month apprenticeship offers individuals an opportunity for hands-on learning and skill building at an innovate and unique forest farm.

We engage in community education and produce of a range of products including mushrooms, maple syrup, duck eggs, pasture lamb, and small fruits including elderberry and Paw Paw.

Our fundamental farm goal is to demonstrate methods for ecosystem restoration that also produce food, medicine, and materials.

Your involvement in this working farm will broaden your understanding of forest farming, agroforestry, permaculture and forest gardening and provide training in both the technical and business skills required to run a small farm.

Apprentices will engage in the following farm systems and topics:

Mushroom cultivation:  Learn to manage a 1,000 log shiitake operation in the woods and oysters grown on straw for commercial markets, along with various stump and woodchip bed inoculations. Develop an understanding of harvest timing, grading and packing for markets, delivery and budget management aspects of the enterprise.

Sheep: Help rotate our flock of sheep on pasture in open field, tree planted, and woodland grazing systems. Learn grass ecology and methods for supporting optimal health. Understand proper fencing techniques and help develop a new silvopasture (woodland grazing) system.

Ducks: Learn to use ducks as a fertility and pest control tool, rotating them through various system including mushroom yard, sheep pasture, gardens, and swale systems. Deliver eggs and learn invoicing and record keeping.

Water capture and storage: Design, installation, maintenance of productive water systems including ponds, swales, and stream buffers. Plant and maintain elderberry and paw paw crops using tubes and cover cropping,

Forestry: Discuss tree ID, ecology, chainsaw safety and practice techniques for tree planting, marking and felling trees, and monitoring forest health.

Core farm skills: Practice observation, site assessment, and holistic goal setting as part of the farm design process. Learn proper use of scythes and other hand tools, and considerations for farm safety.

Expectations and Qualifications

Apprentices are expected to provide their own tent, (though we may be able to accommodate a small camper,) food (other than a CSA share), and transportation to and from the farm. They take part in shared farm chores including composting food and humanure properly, feeding animals, and maintaining clean and organized shared spaces.
Though previous experience is not required, ideal candidates have

-       Experience working on farms, homesteads, or with trade skills
-       A developed work-ethic that includes being proactive and detail oriented
-       The desire to learn about sustainable forms of agriculture
-       A demonstrated capacity to work with others and independently
-       The ability to be physically active and comfortable being outside most of the day in a variety of weather conditions
-       Familiarity with power tools, chainsaw, carpentry a plus


There is a $30/week fee to participate in this high quality educational program. This fee helps us cover our costs and offer personalized mentoring to our apprentices. We also provide a local vegetable CSA share, garden space, and pay for your attendance to three quality agroforestry trainings offered during the season. ($1225 value)

Apprentices have access to our camping area, shared kitchen and hot showers, along with a large two-acre pond for swimming. 

About us

Wellspring Forest Farm is a 10-acre agroforestry farm. Steve and Elizabeth Gabriel work part-time on farm, and will both provide mentoring and teaching during the days of the Apprenticeship program. Steve is an Extension Educator with Cornell Small Farms Program and co-author of Farming the Woods. Elizabeth Gabriel is Executive Director of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming and an accomplished yoga instructor.  

The farm is featured in the film INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective, as well as in numerous articles and audio podcasts.

We are located in Mecklenburg, NY, 12 miles from Ithaca, 8 from Trumansburg and 12 miles from Watkins Glen. We share a driveway and a 2-acre pond with 4 friendly neighbors. Apprentices will likely want to have their own car for personal transportation.

How to Apply

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to: farmers@wellspringforestfarm.com with “2016 Apprenticeship” in the subject line. 

In your letter, tell us about:

- Background and where you are from
- Personal learning goals and why you are interested in the program

- Values you bring to a work environment and how you approach working in groups
- Experience working outside and doing manual labor
- Relevant farming, agroforestry, or permaculture experience 
- Any special needs you have be it diet, facilities, group dynamics, etc
- Other details that we should know about, 

Applications accepted until the positions are filled for 2016.