Tender Soles Farm

FULL FOR THE 2023 SEASON. Our farm is located on Main St. in Richmond, a few miles from downtown Richmond and a few miles from Interstate 295. Richmond has a population of about 3,500, similar in size to its neighboring towns. We are a little less than an hour north from Portland, 20 minutes south of Augusta. Richmond, like most of the surrounding towns, was originally the land of the Abenaki people.

March to November. Minimum of 6 months. We potentially will have part-time work through
the winter.

Our horse-powered, vegetable, herb, and flower farm is located on Main St. in Richmond, a few miles from downtown Richmond and a few miles from Interstate 295. Richmond has a population of about 3,500, similar in size to its neighboring towns. We are a little less than an hour north of Portland and 20 minutes south of Augusta. Richmond, like most of the surrounding towns, was originally the land of the Abenaki people.

Although the town of Richmond is small it offers waterfront on the Kennebec River, with barge access and camping on Swan Island, a boat ramp, three restaurants, a library, a Town Forest, a small grocery store, four hair salons, a hardware store, art gallery, and more. Richmond has its own K-12 schools and we strive to contribute to our local schools as much as we can with educational opportunities, on-farm visits, and gardening advice for their recently created raised garden beds.

Our property is 15 acres of open fields with 30 acres of woodland that we manage with our draft
horses for firewood and lumber for on-farm projects.

We encourage apprentices to get out and explore our surrounding area on evenings and weekends. We can help facilitate gatherings with other apprentices in the area.

Our main products are vegetables, flowers and seedlings. We sell these through several different venues:

  • Farm Stand
  • Box Summer CSA
  • Box Winter CSA
  • Flower CSA
  • Yarmouth Farmers’ Market
  • Seedling Sales
  • Wholesale

We are a horse powered farm – we use our team of draft horses to do all of our cultivation and some woods work in the winter. We do not own a tractor although we do borrow the neighbor’s for various tasks. We cultivate between 1-2 acres a year in vegetables and flowers in addition to two (soon to be three) tunnels keeping in mind we are trying to minimize our use of nonrenewable materials on our farm (i.e. plastic). We have a very small apple orchard and will be putting in a planting of berries and perennial flowers in 2021.

Hay-making is also an integral aspect of our farm since it is the primary source of energy for our larger operations via the horses. We see the farm as a part of a solar-driven economy as opposed to fossil fuel driven. During the summer we rotate the horses on pasture while the grass is growing. The grass forage we harvest for the horses is one of nature’s simplest and time-tested solar collectors. Most operations for making hay are horse-powered as we transition our system
from baling hay to making it loose.

We are also currently developing some fermented vegetable products as a way to reduce on-farm vegetable waste and create value-added products.

Because we are a small farm, apprentices will participate in most of the tasks required on our farm, from planting seeds, to harvest, to marketing. Apprentices will:

  • Learn seedling propagation – seeding all crops needed for use on the farm and for seedling sales: vegetables, herbs flowers. Includes seedling house organization, upkeep, climate control, timing of seeding crop successions, etc.
  • Learn specifics for harvesting all crops grown on our farm including flowers and herbs, as well as specific handling instructions for wash/pack for each type of crop and type of sales outlet.
  • Learn our parameters for being able to accomplish many tasks so that they can do those tasks unattended when need be.
  • If interested, learn some of the skills required to manage a farm including planting schedules, budgeting, cash flow, managing inventory, and more.
  • Participate in farmers’ markets and the process leading up to and after markets.
  • Learn basic modern carpentry and building skills
  • Learn minimal input practices such as mulching, composting, and cover cropping
  • Participate in draft horse care and management. Most of this will be maintenance tasks such as mucking out the horse shed, feeding, moving pasture, etc. If there is significant interest in the horses, we can devote time to the specifics of driving and operating machinery related to tillage, cultivation, hay harvest, and woods work (if you choose to stay on for the winter) as well as general horse care and maintenance.
  • Apprentices must follow our COVID rules pertaining to food handling as well as for interacting with us and our family. We are all in this together and if we open up our house to you we expect you to follow the same strict health protocols that our family follows.
  • At least 6 months prior experience on a commercial vegetable farm.
  • Valid drivers license and your own vehicle.
  • Provide us with 3 references: 2 previous employers and 1 personal.
  • Enjoy a long day outside in the hot sun or pouring rain.
  • Ability to lift 40 pounds.
  • Social skills to be able to interact with customers at the farm stand and farmers’ markets (patience and interest in educating customers on our particular farm practices and answering questions about products).
  • Attention to detail.
  • Ability to follow directions and to ask for direction when more input is needed.
  • Ability to live in a small space by yourself with few ‘modern’ amenities (a cabin on the edge of our property).
  • A passion for nonviolent communication.
  • A passion for living close to the land and in a small rural community during the COVID pandemic.
  • A passion for self-care and a plan to support your body throughout a season of hard physical labor and a mental health support plan during a season of farm work and a second year of the COVID pandemic.
  • A natural curiosity and valuing your own time. You are expecting to learn in your time here and there are lots of different things you will be learning in addition to us learning about each other. We will try our best to meet your expectations for learning from your experience with us, but we also expect you to ask questions; especially if something isn’t clear. We feel that a person who asks questions about processes and the work they are
    doing is generally more invested in the goals we are trying to accomplish as a team.
  • Good work ethic and grit. There will be times when your patience, body, and attention will be tested by farm work. We take satisfaction in sometimes solving and pushing through adversity to accomplish a satisfactory goal.
  • Apprentices will be expected to work 5 nine hour days, Monday-Friday.
  • Non-farm expectations will include cleaning and maintenance of shared living spaces. We will have a chore wheel for this.
  • No Pets.
  • We look forward to hiring apprentices that we enjoy spending time with, but we need a lot of private family time and expect apprentices to be able to occupy themselves in most of their off-time.
  • We will spend many hours with our apprentices training them on how to do various farm activities in a productive, efficient way. We will focus on education, safety, and comfort for each individual – we know that individuals have different learning modes and will work with people to make sure we provide multiple forms of information: written, visual, audio, etc.
  • We will have the apprentice set specific goals for things they want to learn during their time with us with measurable outcomes to mark progress.
  • We will have a quick Monday Morning Meeting to go over the week’s activities and check-in as a team. We will also have a meeting once a month to see how we are progressing on meeting the personal work goals of the apprentice.
  • Apprentices are encouraged to attend MOFGA farm education events, particularly those geared towards apprentices.
  • We can facilitate setting up farm tours at other Maine farms that the apprentice may be interested in visiting.
  • We have many books on organic farming, farming with horses, livestock care, flowers, and herbal remedies we encourage apprentices to borrow at their leisure.

Rich and Kate are both full-time on the farm in the summer, and they both work part-time off the farm December-March. Rich is a carpenter in the off-season and Kate works as a sales associate at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

We will often, but not always be working alongside our apprentice on a daily basis. We expect that as the season continues, the apprentice will be able to take on more responsibility as we feel more comfortable working with each other.

Apprentices will be paid a monthly work stipend, a monthly grocery stipend of $100, and a $100 monthly credit of farm stand products. Of course you get all the vegetables you would like from the farm! This stipend will be based on experience.

Housing: A small cabin set at the back of our field near the woods, a 3-minute walk from our house. No electricity, running water, or WiFi at the cabin, but you do have access to amenities in our house such as: washer/dryer, oven, and shower. We have two young children so expect little activity at the farmhouse after 8pm.

Cabin Amenities:

  • Outhouse
  • Outdoor shower
  • Woodstove
  • Camping style Cookstove
  • Wifi: Wifi reaches to our wash/pack station
  • Cell Service: good or excellent service by most service providers

Illegal drugs are not permitted on our property. No one is allowed to use drugs or alcohol while on the job or to show up to work intoxicated.

We believe that a visit would be in the highest interest of both parties.

We have a Farm Employees Manual. We will take time the first day of the apprentice’s arrival to the season to go over the employee handbook, all expectations, as well as give an extensive farm and house tour.
We will have a brief weekly meeting every Monday morning with all employees to go over the week’s schedule and check-in on each individual’s outlook for the week.

We will give written notice of disciplinary action if the need should arise. We will fire an apprentice if the need arises. If an apprentice decides they want to leave our farm we request 2 weeks notice.

Apprentices are given 5 paid sick days to use throughout their time with us. If an individual needs more than 5 sick days within the season we will discuss how this might affect compensation on an individual basis.

Kate grew up in Whitefield, Maine and Rich is from Queens, NYC. We are both in our mid-30s and have two small children. We value quality time with our family and friends and strive to be good stewards of the 45 acres of land we live on.

We view our role on our farm is to be stewards of the land. We want to leave the land in a better state than when we started. We treat our farm as part of a whole, renewable system tied into the greater environment, not a mode of extraction for us to consume. Of course we’re not perfect and have to balance this with economic viability within a capitalist economic system.

We are using the sun’s energy to feed us and the ecosystem we live in. Our general philosophy is “enough for later” rather than “more now” and the more local, the better. We can’t afford to continue to ship calories and materials vast distances to support us. Our lasting legacy will be better lives for present and future generations.

Conflict is a natural part of human existence. We strive to create an atmosphere where people won’t be afraid to say what they believe and that dialogue (and specifically listening to others to actually hear what they have to share) and nonviolent communication are the keys to diminishing confrontation and divisiveness. However, we will not tolerate any sexist/bigoted/racist/bullying behavior.

Tender Soles Farm

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