Apprentice on Regenerative Grazing Farm in Check, VA

Weathertop Farm
  • Seasonal
  • Check, VA
  • $1,000/month stipend + Meat/Poultry/Egg share + Housing USD / Year
  • This position has been filled

Currently Accepting Farm Apprentice Applications for 2024 Season!

Full details and application here: https://www.weathertopfarm.com/apprenticeship.

OUR FARM:

Weathertop Farm is a family-owned and operated farm located on about 200 acres in scenic Floyd County, Virginia, just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and only 14 miles from the Town of Floyd, renowned for a thriving art, music, and local food scene.

We are dedicated to holistic regenerative agriculture through multi-species rotational grazing and intensive management. No antibiotics or hormones are used, and all livestock eat from pasture that is free of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. Any supplemental feed we use is non-GMO and locally sourced. Our diverse business includes raising and selling pastured chickens, eggs, pigs, lamb, turkeys, and cattle. In contrast to homestead or other non-profit operations, we are a for-profit business, therefore all facets of our farm must work together to enhance the whole business. We do the bulk of our sales direct-to-consumer here at the farm, another large portion through farmers markets, and a limited amount of wholesale to local food stores.

Our daily farm work and life shifts with the seasons. In addition to daily animal care we also do all our own poultry processing on our farm. That involves chicken processing on average once per week from June-October, as well as several days of turkey butchering in October and November. The hogs, sheep, and steers all have assigned dates with a butcher, which involves catching and transporting to and from the various processors. In our freezers, we maintain a fairly large inventory of meats which we take to farmers markets and sell here at the farm.

Our farm team is composed of owner-farmers, Sarah and Cedric, along with 4 to 6 employees in apprentice and manager positions, as needs dictate. Additionally, our farm encompasses a diverse multi-generational community of family, friends, neighbors and visitors, from grandparents to young children, all of whom participate with the farm at various times and in varying degrees, so patience, flexibility and understanding are a must.

We care a great deal about our farm community. We value diversity and equality and welcome anyone who is kind and conscientious to apply to join our team. Couples welcome.

APPRENTICESHIP OVERVIEW:

We’re looking for folks interested in and passionate about preserving sustainable agriculture systems within our local food-shed communities.

Weathertop Farm invites 4 to 6 farm-hand-apprentices each year for the duration of our season, preferably beginning in March, with some starting later, and staying through mid-December. We give preference to those who commit to the full season, but depending on needs, we may consider other arrangements.

Apprentices must be ready to work hard doing manual labor in all kinds of weather. We expect apprentices to put in 40-50 hours a week on average, depending on farm schedule and season; summer is our busiest time. Depending upon the day or task, apprentices can expect to answer to and work alongside farmers Cedric and Sarah for some tasks and independently or in teams for others.

Each apprentice will rotate through all areas of the farm. Work will include but is not limited to:

*Daily care of animals (work closely with livestock: hens, broilers, turkeys, hogs, cattle, sheep)
*Collecting & cleaning eggs
*Handling feed in 50-lb sacks on a daily basis
*Operating tractor and mower
*Daily portable-electric-fence moving
*Frequent set-up/moving of portable housing, hoses, fences, etc., for all animal groups
*Daily pasture-pen moving for broilers (some by hand, some by tractor)
*Participating in daily farm-team meeting
*Plotting animal movement on the grazing chart
*On-farm poultry processing (averaging once/week June-Nov); participation mandatory
*Assisting set-up of trailers for catching/sorting animals
*Occasional building & maintenance projects
*Deliveries to local businesses
*Occasional involvement in farmers markets (Sat & Wed)
*Handle on-farm sales
*Keeping each work area clean and organized
*Miscellaneous tasks may involve, but are not limited to: composting, mowing, cleaning out bedding from brooder & hoop-houses, firewood prep, driving to mill for feed pick-up and unloading, etc.

What We Require of an Apprentice:

*Ability to do manual labor (e.g. lifting a lot of 50 lb feed sacks)
*Enthusiasm, flexibility, & tenacity
*Ability & willingness to follow directions & ask questions
*Cooperation in working with others
*Individual initiative
*Patience both with yourself & others
*Comfortable around animals
*Good physical health & fitness
*Perseverance in adverse weather (heat/cold/rain/snow/etc.)
*Willingness to work on some weekends and holidays
*Commitment to the entire season
*Must be 18 years old by start of apprenticeship
*Must be authorized to work for any employer in the U.S. We are unable to sponsor VISAs.
*No firearms and no illegal drugs.
*No smoking or vaping within farm buildings or living facilities or during work hours.
*Not distracted by personal technology (cell phone, etc.) during workday

Not Required, but a Plus:

*Previous farming experience
*Basic carpentry or mechanical skills
*Comfortable driving (or learning to drive) tractors, manual-gear truck, large delivery van
*Comfortable or experienced in a sales setting and interacting with customers
*Having your own vehicle (no local public transportation available)

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

You can expect to learn about the nitty-gritty details of raising animals first-hand–what the daily work is like on a farm as well as the bigger picture of how we plan for the year and how to integrate multiple species in a pasture-based system. We will spend a lot of time in conversation about farming and related issues. You will have ample opportunity to ask whatever questions you have.

Through this experience you can gain an understanding of the daily ups and downs and ins and outs of a farming season. Because of the diverse range of tasks we require help with–from raising animals to butchering to marketing and sales–you will gain an understanding of how the diverse multi-species grazing operation of our farm is integrated into one business, functioning as a whole.

Group Farm Classes:
We aim to hold a class about once every week or every two weeks, depending on the season. Classes start with lunch, and discussions are prefaced by a variety of short readings or videos to spur conversation. We focus on a wide range of topics related to farming and symbiotic issues. Classes alternate between practical how-to classes and more theoretical discussions, in which Farmer Cedric delves into his passion which combines philosophy and farming. When possible, we do our best to cater class offerings to individual preference and interest.

Additional Opportunities:

*Access to our farm library, including some recommended readings and podcasts
*Visit with other farms and alternative food systems in Floyd
*Occasional workshops, lectures, films, conferences offered in the Floyd area
*VABF Conference, when possible

ACCOMODATIONS:

Housing Provided: Shared 2-bedroom apartment or shared 4-bedroom house. Both housing options come with individual bedrooms, full kitchen and bath (including composting toilet), washer/dryer, heating, WiFi. All utilities included. Basic furnishings provided.

Meals: Monday through Friday, we eat lunch together as a team—Farmers Sarah and Cedric, apprentices, and managers. Other family and friends may sometimes join, as well. Sometimes employees will be invited to dinner with advance notice. All other meals you will be responsible for yourself. Apprentices are provided a share of eggs, poultry, and meat that is grown on the farm. When we have time we enjoy growing a garden and sharing the produce between the team. Please be aware that since we are in the business of raising and selling meat, our farm-raised protein is a staple of our diet, and we are unable to accommodate vegan diets.

Stipend: $1,000/month. An additional bonus in December upon completing *the season. *Potential for further employment for the right person, at the discretion of the farmer and depending on farm needs.

Day(s) off: One day off per week and occasional weekday afternoons. Up to 10 vacation days can be worked into the schedule but must be planned in advance.

TO APPLY:

*VISIT the APPRENTICESHIP page at weathertopfarm.com.
*Complete the Apprentice Application (Google Form).

Please contact us with any questions:
info@weathertopfarm.com

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