2019 Bells Bend Farms Apprenticeship

Please email Eric@bellsbendfarms.com with any questions.

Start date: 04-01-19 (flexible)

End date: Early December 2019 (flexible)

Apprentices wanted: 1-2

General: Bells Bend Farms is a small-scale non-certified organic / biodynamic farm in northwest Nashville, TN, on some of Nashville’s last remaining prime farmland (read about our efforts to keep our area farmland). We manage a ~100 member vegetable CSA, and some livestock depending on the season (this year we will have a few dairy cows, a small flock of laying hens and a small number of hogs). We cultivate about 8 acres of vegetables, four of which are cover cropped and four are planted in vegetables.  This season we will only be selling at one farmers market and will have 3 CSA pickup locations, including the farm. We also work closely with a few local chefs/restaurants.  2019 will be our 10th 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, but planning to do so is not a required of you.  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 an average of 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 complete field tasks (planting, hoeing, observing). 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 in our daily work (lots of harvesting). Once September comes around the pace slows down with most of the work becoming harvesting and establishing fall / winter gardens, CSA deliveries, and preparing fields for the next season.  Fall / Winter is our favorite 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, cultivating, harvesting

Greenhouse: seeding, transplanting, watering

Wash station: washing, sorting, packing - innovative tools like greens bubbler, washing machine salad spinner, barrel root washer

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

Livestock: We have two dairy cows that are milked seasonally and apprentices are invited to learn this process! Potential care for laying hens and hogs if interested.

Other things you will learn about:

Mechanical cultivation - old, lightweight cultivating tractors help us control soil moisture, kill weeds, and stimulate plant growth.

Dry Farming - we try, as drought allows, to 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.

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, rooms are finished with wood, furnished as needed, insulated and each room has its own A/C unit.

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 weekend meals will be on your own most of the time.

Stipend: In addition to room and board, apprentices will receive a $100 per week stipend.

Qualifications:

  • Reliable, responsible, hardworking individuals who are able to follow directions and communicate well 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 (sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold, sometimes we harvest in the rain, such is farming!)

  • 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

  • No pets (there are several dogs and cats on the farm already)

  • 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 Eric@bellsbendfarms.com

We will respond as quickly as possible.