Tide Mill Organic Farm

Carly, Aaron, their family, and a hard-working crew of 7 to 10 others milk 25 dairy cows, tend to 30 to 50 pigs, 1000 turkeys and 2400 broilers on a daily basis. We attend Bar Harbor farmer’s market on Sunday mornings from May through October.  We have an on-farm market on Saturdays and have a weekly delivery route from our farm to Portland.  We also deliver to central Maine on a weekly basis.   We bottle milk two to three times a week and spend several hours every week turning extra milk into a value added butter, cream, ricotta and fromage cheese, etc.   We have a greenhouse where we start vegetable, herb and flower seedlings for our seedling sale.  We make compost and turn our poultry processing waste, and livestock manures into black gold. We practice rotational grazing within a pasture-based system, and we process (harvest, cut, and package) our own poultry year-round in our on-farm USDA inspected processing facility. 

We utilize an array of tractors, second hand pickup trucks, several delivery vehicles, a skid steer, and various other machines to help keep all the pieces moving.  We work with other organic poultry growers to process poultry every week of the year and offer our accounts with fresh chicken every week.

Aaron and Carly and the turkey

Six months minimum.  1 year ideal.   Potential for hourly employment after a successful apprenticeship.  We are a year-round operation but much busier between May 1 and December 1, only 1 apprentice is needed December through April.  Two during our busy time.

We live in an area of amazing, rugged beauty along the shores of Cobscook Bay, and activities include hiking, kayaking, and exploring Maine’s bold, rocky coast. There’s enough coastline and forest for a lifetime on the farm itself, and if you get tired of that there are a number of state parks a stone’s throw away in any direction. Acadia is only a couple hours down the coast and provides more than a weekend’s worth of adventure. We have two small mountains (Bell Mountain and Crane Mountain) on our acreage and enjoy taking group hikes when we have the time.

Machias is 30 minutes to the south and has a grocery store, thrift shop, restaurants, cafes, and other quaint shops to visit in your free time. Lubec and Eastport lie around 30 minutes to the east and provide a very authentic small town New England experience. Calais, an hour to the north, and Ellsworth, an hour and a half to the west, are the closest small cities/big towns, and have plenty of big name stores should you need to do some shopping. There are also a few well-loved independently-owned general stores within a few mile’s radius where you can get snacks, run into locals, and fill up on gas. 

We have a large free stall barn that houses our dairy herd and calves, with an attached workshop and indoor farm stand.  We have a heated greenhouse for our seedlings and a few unheated hoophouses and storage containers to provide shelter for our pigs.  We are in the process of converting an existing structure into a chicken barn to keep our broilers cozy through the winter.  We have a hoophouse we raise our chickens in for three seasons.  We also have our processing facility, where we harvest, eviscerate, and package our poultry. The top floor of this building serves as our apprentice housing. There are several other Bell families living in different houses on the farm.

Carly, Aaron, their family, and a hard-working crew of 7 to 10 others milk 25 dairy cows, tend to 30 to 50 pigs, 1000 turkeys and 2400 broilers on a daily basis. We attend Bar Harbor farmer’s market on Sunday mornings from May through October.  We have an on-farm market on Saturdays and have a weekly delivery route from our farm to Portland.  We also deliver to central Maine on a weekly basis.   We bottle milk two to three times a week and spend several hours every week turning extra milk into a value added butter, cream, ricotta and fromage cheese, etc.   We have a greenhouse where we start vegetable, herb and flower seedlings for our seedling sale.  We make compost and turn our poultry processing waste, and livestock manures into black gold. We practice rotational grazing within a pasture-based system, and we process (harvest, cut, and package) our own poultry year-round in our on-farm USDA inspected processing facility. 

We utilize an array of tractors, second hand pickup trucks, several delivery vehicles, a skid steer, and various other machines to help keep all the pieces moving.  We work with other organic poultry growers to process poultry every week of the year and offer our accounts with fresh chicken every week.

Animals (Year Round)

Settling in piglets, day-old chicks, turkey poults and the daily care of cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys (feeding, watering, clean bedding, fresh pasture, and fence maintenance), poultry harvesting & processing, on-farm marketing and delivering, calf feeding and care, barn chores and milking, bottling milk, skimming cream. 

Other

Fence maintenance, haying, delivery runs, packing orders, farmers markets, loading livestock, balsam wreath business

Skills to be learned

Dairy production, raising organic livestock, harvesting poultry safely and efficiently, seedling production, scything for weed control, and fence maintenance. Building and maintaining relationships with customers, observation skills to maintain animal and crop health, basic record keeping and analysis for farm profitability, and all the processes (packing, branding, certification, etc.) necessary to bring a product to market.

Ability to communicate, work hard and have a good attitude.   A driver’s license and clean driving record is desirable.

You can expect to work six days a week with a guaranteed day off.  Very occasionally (especially through winter) one or more of those days will involve only animal chores, but frequently there are plenty of projects that can round out the day. We expect an average of a 9 hour day, but there will be at least one day a week that exceeds 9 hours. We operate with a weekly “to do” list and then try to get those tasks accomplished within the week based on the weather and other deadlines and tasks.  Farming, especially when you are depending on it for your sole source of income, is very physically demanding work in frequently adverse conditions.  You will be expected to work in the rain, heat, cold, and bugs (black flies and mosquitoes).  Many farming tasks are tedious (a step in the poultry processing line or bottling gallon after gallon of milk) and repetitive (basic animal chores that need to be done every day) — but satisfying! You should be able to lift and carry 40 lbs of weight and stand for two or three hours at a time. You will be living and working with a diverse range of personalities, and it’s expected that you try to approach differences in opinion with respect and patience. You should also be capable of leaving things as you found them and maintaining a clean space for all the others that will be using it after you.

We operate with the “learning by doing” philosophy.  We will demonstrate how we want a task to be done and go into the details about why we do it that particular way. Either we or our other trusted workers will train you with patience as you become accustomed to the routines and tasks of the farm, although we do expect you to be increasingly efficient and independent as time goes on. It can take a couple of months to truly grasp all the workings of even one of the divisions on our farm, so we’re very understanding of the learning process. You are welcome to respectfully use our large selection of farming books and Internet use, as well as other local library resources.  We are also open to visiting other farms in our area and promote MOFGA’s apprentice  opportunities and other exciting and educational farming related activities.

We are both full time farmers. 

We work along side the apprentices on projects or on group work activities which happen at least once a week with chicken processing.  We both manage and labor on the farm and work with everyone to get the job done.   We are open to meals as frequently as once a week if the work of the meal prep and clean up is shared. 

We offer $150 a week per person as a base stipend, but if you have a lot of farming experience there is room for negotiating a higher stipend. We also offer $100 per month for additional food staples. We offer a bonus for a successful apprenticeship if you are in good standing when you finish the season.

Yes, On-farm.

Our main housing option is The AQ (short of “Apprentice Quarters), a 30 by 60 space above the processing facility that has a shared kitchen, a bathroom with bath and shower, common area, and four large, private bedrooms.  Electricity, heat, internet, landline phone, and laundry services are available at no charge.  

We provide certified organic, seasonal vegetables that we have from a small greens garden and buy ins for our farm stand from other Maine organic farmers, fruits, and herbs, raw cow milk, eggs, turkey, chicken, pork, and beef that we grow on the farm. We also provide staples such as coffee, flour, etc., and are happy to share some of our snacks and other miscellaneous foods with you.   Aaron’s mom often makes a big meal once a week to share with the apprentices that can often last for days.   When we have extra food, we are happy to offer, but for the most part, you should plan on independent meals.   Smoking is not allowed inside any building.   Outside is allowed but cigarette butts may not be littered on the farm.   If you are of age, we don’t mind alcohol consumption after the work day as long as it doesn’t lead to destructive or violent behavior.  You must bring appropriate footwear (rubber boots and work boots) as well as your own rain gear, snow gear (if staying through winter), sun protection, and bug protection.  We will be working through many wet, mucky days, or hot, sunny days, or cold, dark days. Also many incredibly beautiful days, which you’ll want a swimming suit for in order to enjoy all the water access on our farm! We also provide worker’s comp. insurance that will cover your injury if you should get injured while working for us. There’s also the Maine Mobile Health Program (http://www.mainemobile.org/) which provides basic health insurance to seasonal farm workers.

It’s preferred, but not necessary if there is a lot of distance involved.

No written manual.   We verbally communicate our feedback and will communicate any problems, make sure you understand what we mean, and give a chance to correct them.   There’s too much important work to do to waste time with drama or babysitting and although we are very tolerable and forgiving for honest mistakes, repeat problems and disruptive, negative behavior isn’t tolerated

Aaron Bell and Carly DelSignore are the husband/wife team that own and operate the certified organic meat and cow dairy business of Tide Mill Farm. They work together to manage their different passions within the business and to balance their different strengths and weaknesses.  Carly currently manages the poultry processing, greenhouse, as well as the direct marketing of the meats and vegetables.  She also manages the financial record keeping of the farm.  Aaron focuses his energy on managing and working with the production of the poultry, dairy, and pigs, haying, farm and off farm field management for cattle feed, and maintenance and repair of equipment and buildings.

Since January of 2000, we have been earning our living farming and attempting to re-vitalize the agricultural infrastructure in Washington County.  We believe we can make the world a better place by helping to connect people to the production of healthy food.  We know that healthy, local food doesn’t just appear on people’s plates without a great deal of effort and devotion. There are many, many critical steps necessary for that food to be grown, packaged, delivered, and marketed.   Hardworking, dedicated people (that’s you!) are a vital piece of the picture.

As mentioned before, we have four kids – all are very independent and help in various aspects of the farm.     We incorporate them into practically everything we do and value their participation, even though that participation requires more time, care, and negotiation.  You will not be expected to do any childcare, though our kids are very likely to go out of their way to interact with you, so comfortability with kids is helpful.  We also work with Aaron’s parents on a daily basis that have generations of knowledge of farming on Tide Mill Farm.   We also work with a large farm crew.   Our farm is extremely busy as we are deeply involved in the production, processing, packaging, delivering, and selling of nutritious food to grateful customers.  Our operation is often bustling and overflowing with people, animals, children, machines, etc.   If chaotic situations and activity stress you out, this is probably not the farm for you. However, if working hard to contribute a significant amount of organic food, unique personalities and animals excites you, and you want to be in a beautiful coastal Maine farm, we hope you consider Tide Mill Farm!

We are flexible and tolerable and prefer to focus on the work of farming than get into gerbil wheel of politics.   That being said, Aaron is a philosophy major and enjoys conversation and offering differing scenarios and contemplations.  Differing views are fine.

 Audrey Cardwell [email protected] 1-704-996-6998

Former apprentice reference 

Riley Callow [email protected] 1-207-259-0288

Former apprentice reference

Rachel Moses,   Help at Farmer’s Market     [email protected]       1-207-669-0224

Personal reference Relationship/Affiliation 

Tide Mill Organic Farm

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