2017 Bells Bend Farms Apprenticeship

Start date: 04-01-17 (flexible)

End date: Early December 2017 (flexible)

Apprentices wanted: 1-2

General: Bells Bend Farm is a small-scale biodynamic farm in northwest Nashville. We manage a 120 member vegetable CSA, as well as an assortment of livestock including cattle, chickens, and hogs. We cultivate about 7 acres of vegetables and rotate livestock on over 100 additional acres.  We sell to multiple farmers markets in town and many farm to table restaurants.  2017 will be our 9th season running a CSA and we feel we have a good system in place for insuring our shareholders stay happy and full.

The purpose of our apprenticeship program is to provide real life training for future small-scale farmers. The majority of individuals who have apprenticed with us have gone on to start their own farming operation.  Our goal is to get you to a place where you feel confident taking this step if that is your goal.  At the very least, you will gain the knowledge of being able to grow food for yourself and your family.  The apprenticeship will include long hours and hard work, but also provide a unique learning experience by showing the daily ins and outs of a successful farming operation. Most of the training will be hands on in the field. We are looking for hard working individuals who can work quickly and smartly, while maintaining an openness to learning and working within a community.

Apprenticeship description: Farm apprentices live and work on the farm from early April till late November. We are looking for hard working individuals who have strong self-motivation and are able to work alone as well as with others. Apprentices should have a strong desire to learn about small-scale farming. Previous farming or gardening experience is preferred but not required. We are looking for apprentices that like to work hard and learn through doing.

Farm apprentices are included in every aspect of the farm’s operation from weeding to farmers’ markets. We try to create a fun and educational work experience for each apprentice. Farming is a lifestyle of hard work with long hours but also extremely rewarding. Apprentices are essential to the farms success each year, making it important to find the right fit for everyone involved.  We are flexible when apprentices need time off.

Details: Apprentices can expect to work between 30-40 hours a week depending on the time of year.

We work a 5 day work week (mon-fri.) with alternating Saturdays at an in town farmers’ market.

Here is a typical week during the CSA season:

Monday- Field walk and check in, field work, field projects.

Tuesday- Harvest, restaurant orders, farm CSA delivery, potluck dinner

Wednesday- field work, farm projects.

Thursday- harvest, restaurant orders, field work

Friday- harvest for Saturday CSA and market, field work

Saturday- In town CSA delivery

April and May will be a training period. Apprentices will learn about the farm, learn to harvest, wash and package vegetables, and assist in any farm projects. Once the CSA starts in mid May, we will start around 7a.m. to harvest and do field work. We eat a farm lunch together at mid-day and either rest and have free time, or do some afternoon field work like transplanting or seeding.  Summer is the busiest time of the year with little variation (lots of harvesting). Once October comes around the pace slows down with most of the work becoming harvesting, CSA deliveries, and preparing fields the next season.  This is a great time to work with cool weather and more free time!

Below is a list of some of the types work apprentices will be involved in:

Field: seeding, transplanting, weeding, thinning, harvesting

Greenhouse: seeding, transplanting, weeding, thinning, watering

Wash station: washing, sorting, packing

Distribution: Managing CSA Pickup, Farmers’ Market sales, sorting restaurant orders

Livestock: Feeding chickens, feeding pigs, moving fencing.  We have two dairy cows that are milked seasonally and apprentices are invited to learn this process!

Other things you will learn about:

Mechanical cultivation - old, lightweight cultivating tractors help us control soil moisture, kill weeds, and stimulate plant growth. You will learn how this works.

Dry Farming - we only irrigate in our greenhouse and hoop house.  You will learn how well-timed cultivation allows our plants to thrive even in dry weather, the way people have farmed successfully for a long time.

The numbers - how our farm is economically viable and how yours can be too.

Housing: Apprentices will live in the upstairs portion of our main farm shed.  Each apprentice will have a separate room and share an open loft area.  An outdoor communal kitchen is located just below the living area. The kitchen is shared by everyone on the farm and is the main common area during the workweek. Apprentices will have access to laundry and showers.  These living accommodations are rustic and simple.

Meals: Apprentices will have access to any vegetables on the farm as well as some meat.  All other staples will be provided by the farm (cheese, peanut butter, milk and yogurt from our dairy cow, flour, pasta, etc.)  Eating well is one of the basic reasons we are doing this work, and you will have an opportunity to learn to prepare much of the food we are growing.  Everyone, including apprentices, will take turns cooking lunches for workers and volunteers during the work week.  Breakfast, dinner, and weekends will be on your own.

Stipend: Apprentices will receive $100 a week including room and board with the opportunity to receive an end-of-season bonus in December (usually $1,000 +  if we have a productive season).

Qualifications:

  • Reliable, responsible, hardworking individuals who are able to follow directions and communicate with others.

  • Excellent people skills and the ability to work both independently and as a team when necessary.  

  • The ability to work in all sorts of weather conditions.  

  • Being able to commit to the farming lifestyle, its rhythm, and all its physical demands.

  • Reference(s)

Requirements:

  • Valid drivers license  

  • We prefer that you do not smoke tobacco (we had a season when this spread a common tobacco disease to our tomato crop)

  • No pets

  • No non-apprenticing partners living on the farm

Contact: If you have interest in the apprenticeship, please send an email of intent and a basic resume to Dylandisque@gmail.com. We will respond as quickly as possible.