Backstage Farm

An Acting Teacher and a professional Costume Designer turned sustenance farmers, have a one acre farm in coastal, Blue Hill, Maine.

Using organic methods growing for Farmers Markets, Co-ops, health food stores, restaurants, and ever-growing cadre of loyal customers. Producing lacto-fermented sauerkraut, pickles, hot sauce, kimchi as well as garlic scape pesto, fruits and berries, eggs, jams and jellies and a variety of fresh produce.

Early April- Late October is ideal, we will consider someone from May to September as well

Backstage farm is five miles from the coastal village of Blue Hill, a small coastal town with vibrant farming and artistic communities. We are 40 minutes from Acadia National Park and Bangor. Many artists and artisans live and work in the area and there are many organic farms nearby with apprentices with whom to forge friendships. We have a vibrant Grange in walking distance from us that offer different community events and get-togethers.

We grow a vast variety of organic, vegetables, fruits and berries. In addition to our outdoor gardens, we have three high tunnels, a number of low tunnels, a flock of thirty free-range egg-laying chickens. We forage for edible mushrooms in the woods around us. We are famous for our line of Moxie’s value-added, lacto-fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc. We are a part of the famous Blue Hill Farmers Market and we sell to many health food
stores, co-ops, restaurants and to an ever-growing cadre of our loyal customers. We participate in Senior Farm Share program and the Gleaning initiative.

We are Certified Naturally Grown (www.CNGfarming.org)

Certified Naturally Grown farmers don’t use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicide, or GMOs,
just like certified organic farmers. The main difference between CNG and organic is our
certification model, which relies on peer inspections, transparency and direct relationships.

We are well known in our community as everyone who purchases our products knows about our
responsible practices.

The Apprentice will learn how to homestead a small farm, how to raise a small flock of fowl, grow and preserve crops, make jams and jellies, ferment food, i.e. sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, hot sauce, make other value-added foods and learn to utilize all of it for sustenance. They will prepare the soil for different crops, learn how to manage compost consisting of food particles, seaweed, horse and cow manure, plant matter and chicken litter, how to harvest and prepare
crops for Farmers Markets, retail stores and restaurants, how to price, sell and interact with the public. The apprentice will learn sustainable soil management, irrigation practices, succession planting and greenhouse production and management.

We hope that our apprentice will have some kind of transportation in order to enjoy the beauty of the area on her/his days off.

We expect our apprentice to perform routine farm work, that involves bending, stooping, walking, lifting up to 50 lbs and standing while washing and processing food. We expect an eight hour work day with one and a half days off.

We are both experienced teachers working with diverse population of young people here and abroad. We will teach by example, giving apprentice responsibility to work alone, work along with us, do research together and discuss our farming decisions. We encourage independent thinking, we welcome new ideas and we are always open to discussion and problem solving ideas. We encourage our apprentice to get involved with MOFGA training workshops and farm tours

Elena is a full time farmer during the growing season and designs costumes for the New Surry Theatre productions during the off- season. Bill has farmed organically since 1969 and has shared his time as an Acting teacher and Consultant of the New Surry Theatre’s (NST) Performing Arts School since 1972 (www.newsurrytheatre.org)

Our apprentice will work side by side with us and we will share two meals a day. Our apprentice will be invited to join us at farmers gatherings in the local Grange and other community events.

In addition to two meals a day with us, plus farm produce for their third meal and a private place to stay, we offer a stipend of $75 per week. We will increase the stipend to $100 when our apprentice will demonstrate good response to our teaching, gain some skills and demonstrate the ability to work independently and with motivation.

Our apprentice will have their own private quarters with a sleeping loft, kitchenette, electric appliances, outdoor cook stove, refrigerator, hot water outdoor shower and a composting toilet. It is attached to the main building but has its own entrance.

We would prefer to meet with our prospective apprentice but if not possible we would gladly speak via phone, Skype or FaceTime. We would expect a trial period of one week so everyone would know that they are happy with the situation.

We do not have a manual and our process for evaluating work is that everyone gets along with each other. We are experienced teachers and welcome comments and questions. We always learn from the people we work with and have never found the need for “disciplinary action”.

Bill had tried farming previously, moving from New York City to New Hampshire in the 1960’s and loved the homesteading way of life, but was too busy with his passion for directing and teaching theatre to stay in one place. He met Elena, a Costume Designer when he was invited to direct a play in Leningrad, USSR in the late eighties. Elena was invited to teach Costume Design at the University of Maine as a J1 Professor. They married and moved to Blue Hill where they purchased their small farm sited in that magical strip along Route 15, near the Blue Hill and Penobscot border, which has produced and continues to produce so much of our region’s local foods. They became serious farmers soon after as their desire to live off the land became stronger. They continue on that path as they grow as farmers and producers of healthy lacto-fermented products that the community has embraced as well as in their love of theatre and helping others. Their philosophy is to respect everyone’s individuality, respect and care for the land; to work hard and to find peace in their lives. Elena’s daughter and Bill’s step-daughter holds a Master Degree in Natural Resources and work in the field in Vermont.

We are very liberal and accepting people, throughout the years we worked with hundreds and hundreds of people, literally, we always respect other people’s opinions and beliefs and never impose our values and beliefs on somebody who is not interested or opposed to them. As long as our apprentice does not try to change us we will be fine.

Value-added production and fermenting. Operating a very small, diverse and successful farm. Wild mushrooms foraging and processing.

Education and Relationship Building

We are both experienced teachers we love to share our knowledge in a friendly, non-judgemental
way. We expect mistakes will be made and we never put blame or shame anyone for making a
mistake. Instead we turn it into a positive learning experience. We develop a real bond with our
apprentices, many of them come back to visit and many stay in touch for many years. We always
inform our apprentices of any training opportunities that might be available in the area.

Equity and Inclusivity

We welcome anybody who is interested in working with us on a small farm. We always value
and respect diversity and individuality, we love to meet new people and get to know and appreciate them

Environmental Sustainability

We have a very small amount of land, to keep it healthy and productive we always follow the
best practices, Elena constantly searching for the ways to improve and maintain our precious
soil. We are Certified Naturally Grown and we follow organic practices at all times.

Safe and Fair

We value help very much and appreciate our apprentices a lot. Unfortunately we can’t pay a real hourly wage, but we offer a decent stipend, we feed our apprentices very well (Elena is a terrific cook), they have full access to farm produce, they have a very nice living arrangement with their own privacy. They are always welcome to share their thoughts and ask for advise if they have any issues. We are very well known and respected in the community and can help if an apprentice has some needs outside the farm life. Safety is a priority and we never stop reminding our apprentice about and hazards on the farm and how to avoid on minimize them.

 

Miranda Benson (2021 apprentice) [email protected] 

Micah Sanders (2020 apprentice) [email protected] 

Amy Gubrud (2019 apprentice) [email protected] 

Backstage Farm

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