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Frith Farm is a no-till organic farm on Wabanaki land in what is now called Scarborough, Maine.
We grow three acres of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and perennials that we sell through CSA, natural food stores, and our local farmers market.
We offer educational workshops on agricultural topics and put on community events to celebrate the connection we all share through food.
We require a commitment for the full season, Easter to Thanksgiving. We also have some winter opportunities for those who have worked the full season, and are open to people staying on for multiple seasons if it seems like a good fit for everyone.
Frith Farm is on 6 open acres on a quiet road in Scarborough. We also have 7 acres of forest, with 35 acres of protected woods abutting. Scarborough is a rapidly growing area, with easy access to urban amenities while still bordering rural communities. We are fifteen minutes from downtown Portland, five minutes from the beach, and less than an hour from New Hampshire, though it is easy to forget all this while on the farm.
We sell through a 200 member CSA, three local natural food stores, the local farmer’s market, and an on-farm store. We grow 3 acres of mixed vegetables, herbs, flowers, and perennials. We focus on the health of the soil and its biology as the basis of health in our plants, animals, and ourselves. As of 2020, we are no longer raising livestock commercially. We grow vegetables without tillage and do almost all field work by hand. We recently built a timber frame barn that includes a farm store and commercial kitchen where we are experimenting with value added products. We believe the farm’s economic viability comes directly from its ecological integrity and its active role in the community.
Yes, we are certified Organic by MOFGA, and we exceed the organic standards in a number of ways, such as engaging in no-till farming and avoiding all organic pesticides.
- Gathering/cutting/splitting/stacking firewood and clearing brush
- Seed starting in soil blocks
- Field preparation, including raking mulch, broadforking, and crimping cover crop
- Transplanting by hand
- Trellising cucumbers and tomatoes
- Weeding, by hand and with a variety of hand tools
- Harvesting, washing, and packing of vegetables
- Attending farmers market
- Harvesting and storing of root crops for winter
- Planting garlic
- Mulching beds for winter
At least six months of outdoor physical work experience, such as farming, trail crew, landscaping, thru hiking, etc.
Daily work varies with the day length, but averages about 45 hours a week. Apprentices work 5 days per week, with one out of four weekends on to harvest and help out at market. We do almost all work by hand, so physical labor can be heavy and frequent. Each apprentice gets an extra three days off for the season, after which any additional days will reduce the monthly stipend proportionately. We look for a level of interest and enthusiasm that makes work on the farm fun for all involved.
Training is generally done by demonstration followed by working alongside each other. Once a task is learned and understood, apprentices will regularly work unsupervised. Weekly classes or discussions on different aspects of farming practices coincide with the work being done during that part of the season. There are optional readings and assignments to go with these. Participation in MOFGA’s Farm Training Projects and other events is strongly encouraged, and time off is given as needed.
I (Daniel) work full-time covering the planning, ordering, marketing, and managerial duties of the farm, and also help with all other aspects of farm work as time allows. After the initial training period, I rarely work entire days with the crew, as I often get called away by my other duties.
Housing and food from the farm is provided, along with a monthly stipend of $1,000 per month. In addition, each apprentice gets $200/month credit to spend in our on-farm store.
Apprentices each have their own bedroom, with shared kitchens and bathrooms. Some live in the 200-year-old farmhouse and some in canvas wall tents on wooden platforms at the edge of our woods. Apprentices eat as many cosmetically-imperfect vegetables at they please, and can use their $200 monthly farm credit to buy eggs, dairy, meat, and grocery items from our on-farm store. Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the farm. There are also no pets allowed. Apprentices are asked to be respectful of the space and each other when it comes to alcohol, noise, and use of profanity in the house and on the farm. There is one official community meal each week that we take turns preparing, and often apprentices choose to cook communally more often throughout the week.
We strongly prefer a farm visit, but are flexible in cases where travel is not feasible. We do not offer or require a trial period, as we hope each apprentice understands the arrangement and the conditions on the farm before committing to a season. We do our best to get to know everyone during the application process to ensure a good fit.
Do you have a written Farm Employees manual? What is your process for evaluating work and giving feedback? What is your process for disciplinary action if necessary?
Training happens through verbal and written description and through physical demonstration. Work is usually done in pairs or groups, so quick and easy feedback is the norm. Each crew member meets one-on-one every 6 weeks with Daniel to discuss how expectations are being met and what improvements might be made. Disciplinary action has never been necessary, but if it were it would be surrounded by lots of communication.
I (Daniel) grew up in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where I attended Waldorf and Quaker schools. I studied math and physics in college, taught at a boarding school in California, bicycled through Mexico, and earned a graduate degree in environmental engineering before getting serious about farming. I believe farmers should be stewards of the land, not miners of its resources, and that farms should be hubs of the community, not distant sources of its calories. I also believe that economic sustainability need not be sacrificed, but rather can come directly from the union of environmental stewardship and community involvement. I started Frith Farm in November of 2010.
Are you interested in participating as a mentor and/or host farmer in MOFGA’s Journeyperson program for advanced training in organic farming?
- Soil health
- No-till vegetable production
- Alternative labor models
- Efficient farm layout
- Farming without tractors
- Cover cropping on small acreage