Farmer Apprenticeship in Horsham, PA

Pennypack Farm

Job Description

Founded in 2003, Pennypack Farm & Education Center (PFEC) is a 13-acre non-profit diversified vegetable farm growing with organic methods in Horsham, PA (eastern Montgomery county). Our mission as a non-profit organization is to Grow, Give and Teach: We run a 350+ member Summer CSA and 160 member Winter CSA and attend a Farmer’s Market. We run a robust Produce Giving Program, working with local hunger relief organizations to distribute high-quality, local nutritious produce to those facing food insecurity.
As an education center, we focus on teaching our community about the importance of local sustainable agriculture through programming. We also teach the next generation of farmers through our farmer training programs (apprenticeship & internship).Farm Apprentices will be employed full-time for the program duration beginning in February or March 2023 and ending in November 2024. This will be our twelfth class of apprentices.

The Farmer Apprentice Program is designed to provide the necessary training to those wishing to pursue organic/sustainable farming as a livelihood, and graduates of the apprenticeship will have the necessary skills to manage a farm. Apprentices participate in all aspects of our farming operation including crop planning, planting, growing, organic pest and weed control, irrigation, and harvesting. Throughout their time with us apprentices also receive extensive tractor training including bed prep, cultivation, tractor repair, and maintenance. During the winter months apprentices learn winter growing techniques and actively participate in planning for the following season.

In the second-year of the program apprentices develop their management skills by taking on more responsibilities including coordinating our Produce Giving Program, managing greenhouses, and leading volunteer groups. On-farm training is supported with a curriculum including topics such as irrigation, weed management, pest life cycles, anatomy, & control, plant disease anatomy & control, soil health, reading soil samples, and cover cropping. In addition, we encourage off-farm educational opportunities like farm tours, workshops, and conferences as schedule permits.

Job Requirements:

Apprentices should be committed to a farming lifestyle and the mental and physical commitment it entails: farming is very rewarding but also demanding. As such a small team, we rely on each other to keep morale and motivation high during the heat of the summer, so we look for people who are organized, personable, enthusiastic about the work, enjoy creative problem solving, and have a sense of humor and positivity.

Ideal candidates:

  • Have one season of experience working on a vegetable farm or equivalent outdoor work experience
  • Have good stamina both on a daily and seasonal basis and are able to complete physically demanding work for long hours for the entire duration of the season
  • Are interested in taking on responsibility and commitment at the farm during their seasons they work with us
  • Are able to keep a good pace and practice time management of themselves and other members of the team/volunteers.
  • Have a positive attitude and a sense of humor (although farming is very demanding, we like to keep a lighthearted and fun team atmosphere!)
  • Are able to be patient and flexible as tasks and priorities change often as the nature of farming means that things can shift with little notice due to weather or other variables
  • Are able to stay organized and maintain presence of mind in the face of difficult weather conditions such as heat, cold, wind, rain etc. or long hours
  • Have the desire and aspiration to acquire the necessary skills and experience to pursue a career in organic agriculture.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation: Employees will be driving tractors, farm vehicles on supply runs, and taking produce to farmer’s market weekly in farm vehicles.
  • Must pass a criminal background check and child abuse clearance.

Job Description:

Please note this is a very physically and mentally demanding position and candidates must be comfortable working long hours in all types of weather. Rotational weekend work is expected.

Duties will include but not limited to:

Planting
Weeding
Harvesting
Setting up irrigation
Repairing items
Working with volunteers
Washing produce
Driving tractors*
Greenhouse work
Seeding
Field clean up
General crop care

  • Previous tractor experience is not required but the applicant must be willing to learn and operate tractors on a regular basis. Please mention in application if you have prior tractor experience.

Job Schedule:

Main season (April-November) 45-50 working hrs per week:
Monday-Friday 7:15 am-5/6pm with hour for lunch (approximately 10 hours a day for the entire duration of the main season)
Rotational weekend duties up to 2 weekends per month that may include a half day of farm tasks on Saturday, watering duties, or attending farmer’s market on Sunday.
Winter season hours (December-March) 35-40 working hours a week:
Monday through Friday 8am-4pm with an hour for lunch
Rotational weekend duties maintaining our winter crops (1 to 2 hours on a weekend day for 1 to 2 weekends a month)

Compensation:
Stipend of $2750 per month with an increase in January of the second year, paid twice a month
Weekly seasonal produce
Paid time off
$100 annual gear reimbursement

Educational Benefits:
On-the-job training and educational courses that take place on and off site through our partner organizations
Access to our our crop calendars, crop management plans, and seed records both during and after the apprenticeship

The farm is located in Horsham, Pa, about 45 minutes by car from Philadelphia. Unfortunately there is no easy public transit and having your own transportation is strongly recommended.

If you are interested in applying for PFEC’s Apprentice Program, please email Farm Manager Kirstie Jones at – and include:
Subject line: Apprenticeship Application
1. Your resume
2. Cover letter answering the following questions:
3. Why has larger scale (as in more than a few acres/raised beds, using tractors etc) sustainable agriculture piqued your interest?
4. What skills prepare you for this position and what will you bring to the farm?
5. Why Pennypack Farm’s apprenticeship?
6. While rewarding, farming at this scale is also very physically and mentally demanding. Please address any relevant experience or qualities that have prepared you for the long hours and hard work required on a farm.
7. How do you think spending 18 months at Pennypack Farm will affect your future goals in the field of agriculture?
8. Anything more we should know about you? Any interesting talents, hobbies?

See more: