Wolf Pine Farm
Wolf Pine Farm is a small family farm located about 40 minutes from Portland, ME, and Portsmouth, NH. We have been certified organic by MOFGA since 2001 and started one of the first CSAs in the state (a few years behind the actual firsts!). We have been operating primarily as a CSA farm since then, but change is in the air! We’ll cover all of that in the interview process. We are offering an apprenticeship that allows some down-time for personal projects and incorporates some shared meal prep into the weekly apprentice duties. We hope that this mix provides some nice options to switch up the pace throughout the week, ample time for rest and exploration of your own personal pursuits, as well as plenty of time to attend apprentice trainings.
April 1 – mid-November. Preference will be given to candidates who are available for the full season.
Wolf Pine Farm is set on 50 acres (half fields, half woods) on the outskirts of the very quiet town of Alfred in Southern Maine. Apprentice housing is in a small off-grid cabin that is a lovely, well-insulated, spacious structure, but should be considered rustic living (more below). There is a farmhouse, barn, greenhouse, high tunnel, and various other outbuildings. There is water access on the farm for swimming and paddling.
This is our 24th season at our farm and every single one of those years has been a little bit different – this one will follow that pattern and we’ll look forward to sharing more details during the interview process. Our focus is primarily on growing mixed vegetables for our CSA and for local food pantries through the Mainers Feeding Mainers program. We have raised livestock in the past, but not at the moment. We do use tractors for some of our field tasks, but about half of the growing area is now in no-till, permanent beds. We have been transitioning into this no-till system gradually since around 2020. A good bit of time will be spent preparing permanent beds by hauling heavy loads of compost and woodchips in many wheelbarrow loads throughout the season. We are not a highly mechanized operation… most things are done “by hand.”
Yes, we are certified organic by MOFGA.
This year will be a transition year for our farm. We may be shifting our areas of focus and it may be a season of trying new ideas. We will have conversations about this during the interview process.
The most ideal apprentice candidates will be interested in absorbing everything possible about what it means to run a small farm and will be interested in the intersection of farm life and home life. We do not currently have large numbers of educational programs, but this is an area that we may work on developing in the coming seasons.
We have not had a focus on cooking and food preparation for many years, but we’d like to bring this aspect back to our apprenticeship. We will carve out a rotation or schedule of weekly responsibilities for some shared meals at the farmhouse (or picnics). Food for these meals will be provided by the farm. We want to carve out scheduled times to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We may schedule time for food preservation as well, but this is not a large part of what we do.
Apprentices will learn about and be directly involved in our no-till vegetable production. There are heavy wheelbarrows of compost and woodchips involved in this work. This work is the cornerstone of every planting in our no-till areas, and time spent on this preparation pays off later with less weeding and more productive crops.
Greenhouse work will be a central part of the early season farm work. Work includes seeding, watering, & potting up. Apprentices will have greenhouse coverage duties that include Friday/Saturday/Sunday on a rotation, or on a schedule – typically there will be 2 weekends per month of greenhouse coverage duties, with flexible time off as compensation for this coverage
Apprentice Duties: Apprentices will assist with day-to-day operations of the farm and will have the opportunity to learn the details of crop planning, marketing, and financial planning that set the groundwork for a farm season. They will work alongside the farmers doing tractor work, greenhouse seeding, watering, field transplanting, direct seeding, cultivating with hand hoes or hand weeding as needed, harvesting, washing & packing produce, writing CSA newsletters, creating social media posts, creating signs and posters, staffing our CSA distribution area, interacting with customers, overseeing volunteers, making compost, doing small carpentry projects, and cutting and splitting firewood.
Wolf Pine Farm offers consistently high-quality produce directly to consumers. Apprentices will be trained to harvest, wash, and pack produce so that it meets our farm standards. Apprentices will also train volunteers and CSA working members in our harvesting techniques. Our CSA allows us to establish relationships and share information about food as well as our organic growing practices with our members. We are looking for applicants who will enjoy communicating with customers and who are interested in learning about the food that we grow (varieties, taste, recipes, nutrition…), our organic growing practices, and the social, ecological, and economic role of small farms.
We can only consider applicants who have a license and their own transportation. We do not live in an area with public transportation, and we do not provide vehicles for personal use. A car is also needed for trips to the laundromat. Laundry is not available on-site.
Apprentices must be able to lift 50 pounds and work for many hours at a time on a single task… sometimes standing, sometimes scooting/bending around the field.
It is helpful if apprentices own & can carry a smartphone so that we can communicate by calls and texts, access free shared to-do lists… and so that they can help capture photos of the farm for social media and marketing.
Apprentice candidates must be hard-working, cooperative, good-natured, & flexible. The days will change with the amount of daylight and with the amount of produce being harvested. Workdays are Monday-Thursday with holidays off. (typical start time might be 8 or 9 am). Apprentices are expected to cover the greenhouse on Friday through Sunday (every other week) – on a rotation with the other apprentice. There is some flexibility, but the person on weekend duty needs to plan to be on-farm all weekend and the start time will be earlier (7-8 am) when opening the greenhouse is needed. On these days the primary responsibilities are for greenhouse coverage, not other major farm work. There will be “flex” time earned from these coverage weekends that can be taken as vacation time or planned days off. Each apprentice will be given one full farm week of paid vacation. At the beginning of the apprenticeship, we will make every effort to schedule this time. Part of the work time includes helping with weekly meal preparations & cleanup, and doing some administrative tasks. There are many tasks that should be considered “heavy” physical labor — such as bed prep and some harvesting. There will be an expectation that some of your time will be working alone on projects after you are all up to speed.
Apprenticeships at Wolf Pine Farm are an opportunity to become fully immersed in all aspects of the farm. Our hope is that apprentices will use our farm as a stepping-stone to starting a farm of their own. Whether you are new to the apprentice scene or have worked at several other farms already, we will work with you to develop an apprenticeship that challenges you. In the interview process, we will begin to discuss specific goals that apprentices wish to achieve. At the beginning of the season, we will set up a plan for meeting those goals, including the scheduling of periodic check-ins. Amy (and other farm staff) will provide supervision and, at first, will work alongside apprentices in almost all projects, demonstrating and discussing why we are doing a particular task in a particular manner. Apprentices will often work independently once they become comfortable with specific projects. We will spend time each week assessing the needs of the farm for that week and developing an action plan together. Apprentices have access to resources in our farm library and may participate in MOFGA-sponsored farm visits and training programs as they desire.
Yes. Amy is the full-time farm owner and staff manager. Tom is a co-owner and oversees several enterprises connected to and separate from the farm.
Amy will work directly with apprentices quite frequently, but not at all times. There are other farm staff who have been on the farm for a long time who may also be managing apprentices during various parts of the week.
Apprentices will live on-site and we will have at least one group dinner per week that is prepared by Amy and/or apprentices and that is shared at the farmhouse. There is a possibility of some weekly shared lunches as well.
Amy tends to be a very hands-on teacher. For field tasks we will discuss first if needed, then move on to a quick demonstration, then Amy will observe while you try, then we will work together whenever possible. Amy will give feedback right away and then plan to check in again later as needed. Often when carrying out a task Amy will give examples of how other people might do the same thing that we are doing and talk about all of the pros and cons of choosing to do something a certain way. Amy likes to be open to deciding to try something a new way. Everyone is different and everyone works differently… often with similar results. Amy is clear & firm when something is being asked to be done a specific way and encourages people to find new and better ways of accomplishing our goals when flexibility is possible. The complexity of tasks will vary, but many things will quickly become work that the apprentice can do independently.
When working on less clearly defined projects or big-picture planning, Amy enjoys discussions and collaboration as a way of introducing something new.
We expect 28-30 hours of training, farming, and kitchen work per week on the farm, in exchange for housing in a (shared) small off-grid staff cabin, some shared meals provided, farm produce available for your own use, and a stipend of $1,200 per month. Laundry is off-site, so we will provide a laundry stipend as well. Apprentices can attend MOFGA workshops and have flexibility to rearrange work time in order to be able to attend workshops.
Two apprentices will share housing in a lovely, small off-grid cabin within a two-minute walk of our swimming hole on Estes Lake/The Mousam River. There is simple running water, a rustic shower (low pressure), a cook stove, a wood stove for the shoulder seasons, and a fridge. There is an outhouse, and we employ a humanure composting system. All utilities are provided, including firewood. There are occasional power outages requiring the use of batteries and occasional issues with the water pump requiring a short period when water may need to be lugged in. There are two small bedrooms, an open kitchen/living area, and a shared multi-purpose loft. Apprentices are responsible for all of their own meals/food at the cabin. Shared meals at the farmhouse will be prepared with farm-purchased supplies and farm food. Apprentices are responsible for the upkeep of their living areas as well as having shared responsibilities for the other common areas and the yard outside the cabin. Smoking and drugs are not allowed.
It is ideal when we can meet in person and show you around the farm. We can work with zoom calls and such as needed. There is an assumption that when you take the job you are making a commitment, but if when someone arrives we are not a good fit for one another we will need to be clear and honest about that. After taking appropriate time for feedback, problem-solving, and discussions, an apprentice can be asked to leave at any point and if the farm is not a good fit for the apprentice we expect that an apprentice will give notice to us with enough communication and time that we can begin to make other plans.
We do not currently have a written manual. Amy evaluates work as quickly as possible in the moment and revisits evaluation as needed, especially if there is time in between tasks. An apprentice should expect to spend a good bit of time discussing technique and striving to meet a certain level of an expectation of how work will be done. Feedback is done with kindness and an understanding that many things on the farm take a little while to get the hang of.
The Wolf Pine Family consists of Amy & Tom and our 18 and 20-year-old children who are not frequently around the farm, but very much a part of it. Amy is well into mid-life transition time and is figuring out how to shape the farm around this latest chapter. Amy has co-owned and managed Wolf Pine Farm for 23 years with one full-season apprenticeship and a lot of farm volunteering prior to that.
Amy’s original pull toward farming was based on a desire to connect people to a local food supply that they could feel good about and that would help promote a more sustainable food system. Her goals currently include planning for the future of the farm in a way that balances personal time with the joys and demands of a farming season. When not actively farming, Amy likes to eat good food, get some solo time, have time to connect with friends and family, and paddle, float, or swim in the river. Maybe this is the year for another pottery class and creating an outdoor bathtub? Who knows!
These last 23 years have been filled with starting a farm, raising children, and hosting a large number of apprentices and staff who remain dear to us.
We have a lot of conversations as we work and spend time together. There is so much that can be learned from this sharing. We are respectful of other people’s views and expect a high level of respect in the general tone of all interactions on the farm.
At Wolf Pine Farm, we are committed to teaching & sharing with kindness and respect while also giving great care and consideration to how our actions impact the earth.
References available upon request.