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Learn the art of growing tons of delicious organic vegetables and selling them at local farmers’ markets! We are looking for hard working, reliable folks who want to join us for a full immersion apprenticeship here in the hills of Dixmont. Apprentices will learn all aspects of production from seed starting and weeding, to harvesting and marketing.
Number of Apprentices Sought: 2-3
Ideally, apprentices are here from April through November. We can sometimes accommodate students who only have summers off, with a minimum stay of 3 months.
Peacemeal Farm is nestled in the Dixmont hills along the east branch of Martin Stream. The farmhouse and farm buildings sit on a hillside with a view of the fields, stream and surrounding mountains. We have about 15 acres in tillage, 20 acres of hay fields, 30 acres of forest and 25 acres of marshland. Dixmont is a rural community where farming, forestry and wildlife define the landscape. The farm is a 30 minute drive from Belfast and Bangor.
Our goal is to grow quality organic vegetables and sell them at farmers’ markets for a price that everyone can afford. We raise over 12 acres of mixed vegetables including carrots, beets, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, melons, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, parsnips, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, winter squash, herbs and many more. The vegetable crops are rotated each season with a variety of cover crops. We have a heated greenhouse for growing our own seedlings and four hoop houses for extending the growing season. Most of the planting, weeding and harvesting is done by hand. Tractors are used for field preparation, cultivation and some planting. We sell the majority of produce at our local farmers’ markets each week in Belfast, Camden, Orono, Bangor and at our farm stand. The main marketing season is May through November, with the addition of two winter markets December through April.
The season begins in the spring with greenhouse work. Apprentices will learn seed starting techniques and how to grow seedlings on to be transplanted in the field. This time of year we also work in the hoop houses preparing and planting beds for early crops.
In summer, the vast majority of our time is spent in the field. We start with transplanting seedlings, followed by lots of weeding and harvesting. Apprentices will learn how to use a variety of hand tools to effectively control weeds, along with pulling weeds by hand.
Once harvest season is in full swing, we are picking almost every morning. Everyone will learn harvesting techniques for each crop and will work in the washroom to prep produce for market. Apprentices go to at least one market every week and will learn all aspects of selling vegetables at a farmers’ market.
In the fall, we continue with our weekly harvests for market in the field and hoop houses, along with bringing in all the various crops for storage and managing the hoophouses for late greens. The full farmers’ market schedule continues until Thanksgiving at which point we switch to our winter market schedule.
The work is both physically and mentally challenging. There is heavy lifting, working on your knees, working in the rain and in the cold. Despite the challenges, we have fun accomplishing the many jobs we have each day and take pride in the vegetables we bring to our appreciative customers. Apprentices inevitably take ownership of their work on the farm and at the markets they attend each week.
The ideal candidate for working a season on our farm will possess the following:
- A strong work ethic.
- Physical and mental endurance for working long hours in all types of weather.
- Ability to maintain an efficient work flow for extended periods.
- Excellent attention to detail.
- Ability to work with a group or alone.
- Ability to maintain a positive attitude under stressful conditions.
- Good communication skills with the farm crew and market customers.
- The burning desire to live an all encompassing vegetable driven existence.
We work 8-10 hour days Monday through Friday and a half day on Saturday. In the spring we start a bit later, but once the season is in full swing, we start at 6 am. We take a 1 hour lunch break in the middle of the day and a late afternoon break. Vegetable farming can be hard on your body. Apprentices should be ready for heavy lifting, repetitive hand movements and a good deal of kneeling.
We want apprentices to learn how to become successful farmers’ and marketers. Many of our former apprentices have gone on to start their own farms after working here. All our hard work creates a hands on learning experience, which is the essence of our apprenticeship. We explain why and how each job is completed and work along with apprentices to make sure they understand. There is always time for questions, further instruction and discussions on topics of interest. Many projects are accomplished as a group which provides opportunity to talk with returning workers who are also knowledgable in many areas. Skills and techniques are mastered throughout the season by performing tasks with focus and intention. We have a Crop Walk every Monday in which we scout each field, discuss what is happening and create a work plan for the week. For most apprentices, this time contributes to the greater understanding of farm management as a whole. In addition, we have many books and publications on farming topics available.
We work with apprentices to make sure they understand the task at hand. There will be times when apprentices will take the knowledge they have learned to perform these tasks independently or with the rest of the crew.
The starting pay is $12/hour with potential for increases over the course of the season or prior farming experience.
We do not have housing available this year.
We strongly encourage apprentices to visit any farm they are applying to work and live at in order to find the best 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?
We do not have a farm employee manuel, but we do continually provide feedback to apprentices since many tasks change and evolve as the season progresses. The success of our farm depends on consistent communication among the entire crew. We address any issues as they arise.
Mark has a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Maine and moved to the farm in 2000. Marcia has a degree in Engineering from the University of Maryland and arrived in 2002. Prior to farming here, we both apprenticed on several other organic vegetable farms in Maine, Vermont , Massachusetts and Maryland. We have two kids, ages 11 and 14, and two big dogs. Our goal is to provide our family, friends and local communities with fresh organic veggies. We spend the majority of our time making this happen since Maine has a relatively short growing season. As a result, our social time happens on the farm, at market and at potlucks on the weekends with friends and other farmers in our community.