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Full Season Farm Crew: Full Time /Paid Farmer Apprentceship

Noah Jackson
Published
February 9, 2020
Location
Hamilton, Montana
Type of farm?
Diverse (Animals/Plants)
Start Date
2020/04/15
End Date
2020/31/10
Pay/Salary
$350 / week; $500 season completion bonus; housing; some food.
Positions Available
2
Tag Words
Cattle, Cooking, Cow Dairy, Dogs, Emu, Farm Tours, Forestry, Further Processing, Goat Dairy, Nuts, Organic, Pastured, Permaculture, Pheasant, Tree Farm, Vineyard

Description

Description

SweetRoot Farm is a small organic farm run by partners Mary Bricker and Noah Jackson in the center of Montana's Bitterroot Valley. We raise vegetables, herbs, flowers, and laying hens on 10 acres just outside of the town of Hamilton. We are entering our sixth season of full-time farming, and in 2020 we will have about 2.5 acres in production including 7,200 square feet of space in stationary unheated high-tunnels, and another 5,000 sf of season extension through moveable caterpillar tunnels. We sell our produce through a local farmers' market, a self-serve farmstore, a membership program of approximately 70 households, as well as through a grower's co-operative and 3 local chef accounts. Part of our motivation as farmers is to be an integrated part of our community, giving people a place to connect with and a better understanding of the process behind their food. We are very open with the community about our practices, our farm development, and our challenges, and encourage farm members and customers to tour the farm throughout the season as we host seasonal farm events. Because of this high degree of outreach, farm crew will find themselves welcomed by a highly engaged and involved community of farm members and customers.

We grow about 50 crops for direct sales (market, farmstore, and farm members), and a smaller sub-set of crops for wholesale accounts. Those wholesale crops include baby greens mixes (salad, arugula, baby kale, spinach), head lettuce, radishes, onions, and cucumbers. Our production is about 70% for direct-sales and 30% for wholesale. We grow using all organic methods, are certified by Montana Homegrown (Montana Sustainable Growers Union), with potential to eventually add USDA organic certification. In 2019 we altered much of our soil preparation methods to transition to minimal tillage on permanent beds; we use both a BCS walk-behind, and a four-wheeled Kubota tractor for various farm tasks.

Location Specifics

SweetRoot Farm is a small organic farm run by partners Mary Bricker and Noah Jackson in the center of Montana's Bitterroot Valley. We raise vegetables, herbs, flowers, and laying hens on 10 acres just outside of the town of Hamilton. We are entering our sixth season of full-time farming, and in 2020 we will have about 2.5 acres in production including 7,200 square feet of space in stationary unheated high-tunnels, and another 5,000 sf of season extension through moveable caterpillar tunnels. We sell our produce through a local farmers' market, a self-serve farmstore, a membership program of approximately 70 households, as well as through a grower's co-operative and 3 local chef accounts. Part of our motivation as farmers is to be an integrated part of our community, giving people a place to connect with and a better understanding of the process behind their food. We are very open with the community about our practices, our farm development, and our challenges, and encourage farm members and customers to tour the farm throughout the season as we host seasonal farm events. Because of this high degree of outreach, farm crew will find themselves welcomed by a highly engaged and involved community of farm members and customers.

We grow about 50 crops for direct sales (market, farmstore, and farm members), and a smaller sub-set of crops for wholesale accounts. Those wholesale crops include baby greens mixes (salad, arugula, baby kale, spinach), head lettuce, radishes, onions, and cucumbers. Our production is about 70% for direct-sales and 30% for wholesale. We grow using all organic methods, are certified by Montana Homegrown (Montana Sustainable Growers Union), with potential to eventually add USDA organic certification. In 2019 we altered much of our soil preparation methods to transition to minimal tillage on permanent beds; we use both a BCS walk-behind, and a four-wheeled Kubota tractor for various farm tasks.

From the farm, the town of Hamilton is a flat bike ride of less than 2 miles; the larger university-town of Missoula is about a one-hour drive. There are multiple trailheads for accessing the Bitterroot National forest and other public lands within a 5-10 miles drive, and a good swimming hole on the Bitterroot River about a half-mile from the farm.

Position Description

We are hiring for two full-time farm crew members, and one part-time harvest crew member (2-3 days/ week). Farm Crew will work as a team alongside the farm owner/ operators, and learn all aspects of vegetable production, from planning, bed prep, seeding, and transplanting to cultivation, harvest, post-harvest handling, and sales (farmers market and farmstand/ membership pickup). We are looking for people who are hard-working, motivated to learn, perform well in a fast-paced environment, and interested in some aspect of farming as a possible career.

This position gives people the opportunity to fully try on the lifestyle of a small organic farm; this is work that can be exhausting, demanding, but also exhilarating and rewarding. We strive to give farm crew real responsibilities in order to learn from experience, and we have high expectations for performance from the whole team, both in our production as a farm, and in learning and skills gained. Crew must be able to work well as part of a team, and also be able to apply their experience and to work independently.

We try to have the team work 40-50 hours per week, on five-days/ week schedule, but we also want to give a realistic experience of farming, so we do expect that everyone stays at it until the day's tasks are done. Our farmers market is Saturday, so on a rotating schedule everyone will have some rounds of a six-day week, followed by a 4-day week.

Compensation, Housing, and Food

For full-time positions: $350/ week salary, and a $500 end-of-season bonus for completing the full season with us. For part-time position, $80/ harvest day. (harvest days are Monday and Thursday, with additional bulk-harvest days scheduled in fall). The individuals in the two full-time farm crew positions will each have their own small but private cabin (110 and 160 square feet), equipped with power, heat, wi-fi access, refrigerator, composting toilet, and kitchen sink with water supplied by refillable jugs. A sauna/ bathhouse building next to the cabins has a heated shower and washing machine available for everyone on the farm. Housing is not provided for the part-time position. Plenty of farm produce is available for crew to use, plus abundant seconds for preserving. Core staples (organic whole grains, legumes, cooking oils etc.) are stocked for the farm crew monthly through the season. Individuals are responsible for most of their own meals, but we'll occasionally prepare group meals to foster a team discussion, celebrate an accomplishment or special occasion, or thank the crew for an extra work-push.

Expectations

We are looking for farmhands who are hard-working, eager to learn, able to communicate effectively, work in a past-paced environment, and learn quickly with hands-on instruction. Previous farming experience is highly favored, but not required. Applicants without farm experience should at least have experience working in some kind of physically demanding, outdoor-based work.

Application Process

Please email us a current resume, and a letter of intent explaining why you want to work on our farm, and why you are a good fit. In your letter please be sure to cover the questions listed below, and include two professional references in either your letter or your resume. Email to farmers@sweetroot.farm. We will contact qualified applicants to arrange phone interviews as soon as possible. Thanks!

1. Your basic information and contact info (phone and email).

2. Please briefly describe why you are interested in working on our farm. What do you hope to gain from your experience this season?

3. Please describe your previous farming experience. If you do not have any, please describe two relevant experiences (work, hobbies, volunteering, internships, etc. ) that you think have helped prepare you for a season of farming.

4. This job requires people to perform physical work efficiently and accurately outdoors in all kinds of weather. Please describe an experience in which you managed to perform well in the face of challenging physical conditions.

5. Please provide contact information for two recent employers or supervisors.

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