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Phil’s Farm is an 8 acre, reduced-till farm that produces organic vegetables and herbs in Bowdoinham, ME. We are always trialing new techniques to improve our farming practices and hope to eventually become fully no-till. Production relies on efficient tools including tractors and implements that gently work the soil to improve rather than destroy the soil.
The farm was started in the spring of 2018 on leased land in Eliot, ME and just moved to Bowdoinham in 2021.
The food is sold primarily to a 150 member CSA with one pickup location in Portland and the other in Portsmouth, NH. The CSA allows Phil and his farm crew the opportunity to engage with their customers and in turn helps the customers gain a better appreciation for the food they’re eating.
Apprenticeship is from May 3 – October 1
Phil’s Farm is 8 acres of open land on a 43 acre piece of land. The remaining acres are wooded with a large stream that runs through it. The farm is located in the town of Bowdoinham which is a fairly small town with a thriving agricultural community. There are over 10 other successful farms in the town due to its rich riverbed soil along the Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay. The bay itself is home to the largest population of bald eagles in the state and there’s plenty of beautiful waterways by canoe or kayak- we have a canoe at the farm that you’re welcome to use.
Bowdoinham is 40 minutes from Portland and within 2 hours from most of Maine’s amazing outdoor recreation such as Acadia National Park, the Rangley Lake region and the Bigelow mountain range.
Infrastructure on the farm includes a walk in cooler, root cellar, a greenhouse, hoop house for tomatoes, wash/pack area, a well, driveway and a composting toilet.
I believe in producing affordable food in a way that is good for the environment, the people producing it and the end consumers. As a result, we try to not use any pesticides and certainly don’t use herbicides on the farm. We also strive to minimize the use of gasoline and plastic products and instead use solar power, efficient tools, reusable bags or no packaging at all whenever possible.
Phil’s Farm is a 8 acre, reduced-till farm that produces organic vegetables and herbs in Bowdoinham, ME. Over time the farm will hopefully become fully no-till. We are in the process of trialing new techniques to improve our farming practices. The farm was started in the spring of 2018 on leased land in Eliot, ME and just moved to Bowdoinham in 2021. The food is sold primarily to a CSA with one pickup location in Portland and the other in Portsmouth, NH. The CSA allows Phil and his farm crew the opportunity to engage with their customers and in turn helps the customers gain a better appreciation for the food they’re eating. Excess food will be sold wholesale and potentially at a farmers market.
The farm crew this year will be myself and two apprentices.
- Field preparation and bed prep
- Cover crop seeding
- Greenhouse planting, watering and potting up
- Setting up irrigation
- Building infrastructure
- Transplanting & direct seeding
- Harvesting, Washing, Packing, Post-harvest handling
- CSA distribution and sales
- Sucker and Trellising tomatoes, peppers and eggplant
- Turing beds from one crop over to another
- Cover cropping
- Pest/Disease management
- Greenhouse & Field Irrigation
- Frost protection of field crops
- Tool repair and maintenance
- Fall seeded cover crops
- A valid driver’s license
- Ability to lift 50 lbs comfortably
- Willingness to drive a pickup truck, tractors and a box truck
- 7am – 4pm Monday – Friday with 1 hour unpaid break for lunch at 11am
- In June, we will end at 5pm and then in September, we’ll cut the hours to have half days on Fridays.
- Every other week, you’ll run the Tuesday Portland CSA from 4:30-7pm or the Thursday Portsmouth CSA from 4:30-7pm. You’ll either bring the truck home with you or return it to the farm that night. You’ll then be able to take off 4-5 hours at some other point during that week to make up for the late night.
Paid holidays include:
- Monday, May 31st for Memorial Day
- Monday, July 5th for Independence Day
- Monday, September 6th for Labor Day
During the first two months of the season, we will spend a lot of time working on our standard ways of harvesting, washing, packing bins, recording harvests, seeding, transplanting, operating tractors, changing implements, packing the truck and running the CSA. After those months, you should feel confident in your abilities to do all of these tasks. For the remaining 3 months, you will be able to make strategic decisions on the farm and to dictate how you spend some of your time to accomplish your tasks. We will divvy up some tasks that you will then take ownership of to complete by the end of the week. I believe that empowering people with the skills and knowledge to make decisions, take leadership and have ownership in what they do is key to their happiness and success. In turn, it will allow you to realize your full potential on the farm. I’m excited to see what ideas you have about how to do things better. I, alone, do not have all the answers and will certainly make mistakes. It takes a team of diverse skill sets and personalities to make a farm and a business successful.
What you can expect from me:
- To start work at 7am and end at 4pm each day
- To be punctual
- To create a fun, educational and productive work environment
- To be patient as you learn new skills
- To appreciate your hard work and contribution to the farm and our customers
- To be honest and communicative
What I expect from you:
- To work hard
- To be punctual
- To have fun
- To learn
- To be honest and communicative
I will primarily be working alongside the apprentice and teaching while we work. With new tasks I will demonstrate how I like to do the task and why it works for me. I would like for my apprentice to try that method first and work at it until you feel you’ve mastered it. Then, I then encourage you to tweak the process to find an even better method.
I will also provide suggested reading materials and educational opportunities to supplement their hands-on learning- the weekly farm training projects will be a big part of this.
We will check in every other week to offer feedback and voice any concerns.
I will be working with my apprentice each day.
The compensation is $15/hr. You are also welcome to as much food from the farm as you would like.
I would recommend renting an apartment in Brunswick or Bowdoinham. There are likely more available apartments in Brunswick and it’s a great town to live in too. I am happy to help you navigate the various apartment rental sites to find a spot.
Yes, I do require a visit to meet in person.
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?
No, I do not have a written farm employees manual. We will have a biweekly check in to discuss how the apprenticeship is going from both my and the apprentice’s perspective. We will identify areas where they would like more experience/education and areas for improvement. The process for disciplinary action is that I will give two warnings and on the third offense, I will take disciplinary action. This would likely include being asked to leave the farm for the remainder of the day which would result in receiving less pay.
I am 30 years old and this is my fourth year running my farm. I have apprenticed on farms in Maine and California as well as managed farms in New York. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia but fell in love with agriculture and Maine when I went to college at Bowdoin in Brunswick, ME. I hold some strong convictions around what I think good farming is and hold myself to a high standard to farm in that manner. I am a naturalist and minimalist and rather use my mind and creativity than dollars and materials to achieve what I need on the farm. I have learned to work with nature, rather than against her in farming and I look to nature to guide me in my farming practices.
I believe that this world needs more small farms growing affordable food in a responsible manner that is good for the environment, the consumers and the farmers. My goal is to run a successful business that achieves this and to then help others do the same. The apprenticeship program is my first step in helping others start their own farms and have a positive contribution to the world.
Please describe any ideological and/ or political views that may affect an apprentices experience on your farm. How would you navigate if apprentices’ views are different from your own?
I am a democrat and feel strongly about sustainability and I respect the views of opinions of others no matter how much they differ from mine. I accept anyone and everyone and welcome different perspectives from my own. I believe that as a society we need to bridge our divides rather than deepen them.
By participating in the MOFGA apprenticeship program you agree to uphold the “MOFGA Apprenticeship Program Core Values”. Please briefly describe how these 4 values are exemplified on your farm.
Education and Relationship
I take the care and time to properly train people on the farm how to use equipment and perform various tasks. I communicate the reasons behind the way we do things and strive to give a well-rounded understanding of what we do on the farm. We have regular biweekly check ins that offer the space to give and receive feedback.
Equity and Inclusivity
Diversity is a strength and Maine, as well as agriculture in Maine, will benefit from a wide range of people taking an interest in it. I welcome everyone to work on my farm. I acknowledge that I come from a privileged background and do not contribute to diversity to Maine’s agricultural community. I certainly have flaws and biases too but I intentionally approach all situations with an open mind and try to never make assumptions about people before I get to know them.
I farm organically and go to great lengths to farm sustainably. I limit my use of non-renewable resources and take extreme care with how I treat my soil and my environment.
Safe and Fair
I believe I compensate my employees and apprentices fairly at $15/hr and am acutely aware of creating a safe space for them to work and learn. We use protective equipment when necessary and I provide training on proper technique so people develop safe habits. I also greatly respect and appreciate the work people contribute to my farm for without their efforts, the farm could not exist.