The Chewonki Farm
The Chewonki Farm, on Chewonki’s Wiscasset property, is a small and diversified saltmarsh farm; its primary goal is to educate program participants while producing food, firewood, and fiber for our campus community. There are approximately 26 acres of open land; one acre is cultivated for vegetable gardens, and 25 acres are pasture and hay fields. The managed woodlot is approximately 150 acres.
We raise livestock for meat, eggs, and fiber. The farm keeps a small herd of beef cows and a flock breeding ewes that produces lambs for meat each spring. We raise around 200 laying hens, free-ranging most of the year. Up to three hundred broilers and 15 turkeys are pasture-pen raised in the late summer/fall. Two batches of two to eight pigs are raised annually for meat.
Two draft horses provide much of the power for the farm operation including plowing and garden cultivation; hay cutting, tedding, and raking; winter logging and wood hauling; and a wide variety of other tasks. We are always looking for ways to expand our knowledge and to effectively and safely utilize draft horsepower. Whenever possible, horsepower is emphasized as a sustainable and rewarding method of accomplishing valuable labor. We also have a tractor that we use primarily for moving material, turning compost, cutting hay, and clipping pasture.
As mentioned above, we use two horses to log in the winter months. With the help of a professional forester and the Chewonki community, the farm is responsible for managing 150 acres of woodlot. We harvest about 20 to 30 cords of firewood annually. The majority of the work is timber stand improvement and firewood production, and may include maintaining and improving woodlot roads, tree pruning, felling, limbing, slash management, and limited production of sawlogs and pulpwood.
We cut three to five acres of our own hay with a sickle bar mower and bring it in loose. We buy in the remainder of our hay in bales from a local farmer.
The farm crew, in cooperation with the Facilities staff, maintains the majority of the farm buildings, grounds, and machinery.
Education is central to Chewonki’s mission statement and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statement: any individual that works on the farm must consider themselves a teacher as well as a farmer. Because our working farm is the context for our education rather than a traditional classroom setting, the farm crew needs to be comfortable and adept with teaching as they work alongside students and program staff. Education about farm and food systems happens both formally and informally at Chewonki and may be grounded in a work experience, a classroom experience, and/or a food preparation and dining experience.
Our primary approach to education on the farm is to integrate young people into meaningful production systems. Additionally, we articulate the “why” behind our systems and build context for how our approach to work and land management fits into the broader scope of farm and food systems nationally and globally. Because the farm acts as a support department to all Chewonki programs, farmers work with young people ages 7 to 18, creating developmentally appropriate and program-specific farm intersections that complement and further a participant’s broader Chewonki experience.
Farm Activities and Responsibilities throughout the annual cycle:
Farmers are expected to be present for morning chores beginning around 6:00 am (season dependent) through afternoon chores beginning at approximately 4:00 pm. Chores to care for livestock are done at the beginning and end of every day throughout the year. Generally, our workday is between nine to ten hours daily, five days a week, and can be more during certain seasons. Chore weekend responsibilities alternate with “off” weekends.
There is a seasonal flow to work on the Chewonki farm, though there is less of an “off” season than on some market farms. An overview of the whole year is given below.
February – March: Maine Coast Semester, and Waypoint in session, work program, focus on firewood and woodlot work, early hoop house growing, seed starting
April – May: Maine Coast Semester, Waypoint, and Outdoor Classroom in session, work program, seed starting, garden plowing/cultivating/planting, pasture rotation, mowing, fence maintenance, lambing
June-August: Camp Chewonki in session, Camp Farm Activity support, intensive garden and pasture work, haying, harvesting for kitchen and Packout
September –December: Maine Coast Semester, Waypoint, and Outdoor Classroom in session, work program, harvesting and storing crops, cover cropping, manure spreading, machinery repair and winterizing, livestock to slaughter, begin wood season preparations, infrastructure management
Late December – January: Maine Coast Semester and Outdoor Classroom on break, farm crew takes approximately three weeks of downtime doing only chores and necessary tasks. Starting in late January, the farm crew prepares for the Semester and actively manages the woodlot for firewood production.
485 Chewonki Neck Road Wiscasset, ME
Hours and Work Season
Full time, year-round apprenticeship (12-18 month duration).
The Farm Apprentice/Residential Program Support supports the overall farm and woodlot operations at Chewonki, which include garden and pasture management, animal husbandry, and sustainable forestry operations. Farm Apprentices must aid in balancing the dual focus of the Chewonki farm, maximizing both production and education on the farm and in the woods. Additionally, the Farm Apprentice/Residential Program Support fulfills certain off-farm, residential education responsibilities to support the Maine Coast Semester.
The farm crew includes three tiers of positions:
– Leadership positions (year-round): Farm Manager
– Crew positions (year-round): Farmer/Educator, Farm Apprentices
– Seasonal crew positions (June – August): Summer Farm Workers (4)
Responsibilities of the Farm Apprentices:
The Farm Apprentices’ areas of responsibility include the following:
– Assist with the managing the three primary production focuses of the Chewonki farm:
– Small-scale, diversified, organic food production
– Pasture and livestock management
– Low-impact forestry
– Integrate workhorse into many farm tasks
– Help with maintenance and care of pasture and harvesting of hay
– Work with Maine Coast Semester, Camp Chewonki participants, Outdoor Classroom students, and Waypoint students on various work projects, chores, and lessons during their program season
– Additionally, one Farm Apprentice will perform residential duties and supporting functions for Maine Coast Semester during the school year, including:
— Participate in a rotating residential education duty schedule on weeknights and weekends in support of the Maine Coast Semester. Weekend duties include ~4 on-duty weekends.
— Attend weekly faculty meetings and some school meetings.
— Assume other responsibilities and leadership as needed.
– Lead projects/tasks with summer farm help
– Organize and maintain tools (mechanized and otherwise)
– Maintain buildings in coordination with facilities department
– Attend various staff meetings
All Farm Crew Members:
– Thoughtfully prioritize within interconnected systems and a full, physical season
– Recognize and celebrate the farm’s historical context and have the flexibility to grow and adapt systems based in that context
– Act as facilitators of Chewonki’s food system
– Make mission-driven decisions
– Share the workload and responsibilities equitably
– Balance production and education within the farm context
– Work with intention to build a thriving crew culture
– Respond to on-farm emergencies and incidents
– Work to honor and uphold the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and a lens of anti-racism in the best interest of participants, constituents, and staff across the organization
– A willingness to work as a team member among the farm department and the greater Chewonki community
– Live on the Chewonki campus and share meals with the community
– Contribute to and collaborate with the Chewonki community through committees and foundation wide events
– Share the collective responsibility within risk management (physical, behavioral, institutional, etc.) by:
– Using sound judgment
– Operating within your skill set and Chewonki protocols
– Responding to and/ or alerting the appropriate person(s) when you see something that may compromise safety
– Must complete fingerprinting requirements/pass criminal background check with the Maine Department of Education
– Driver’s license approved by Chewonki’s insurance carrier
– The Chewonki Foundation requires that 100% of staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, as allowed for by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination will be required upon acceptance of a job offer.
– Attend Chewonki driver training
– Attend required onboarding and training sessions
Required Skills/Experience/Abilities of the Farm Apprentice:
– Interest in education-based, diversified farming
– Ability to work collaboratively and effectively with different kinds of people
– Willingness to learn to use draft horsepower on a diversified farm
– Willingness to learn to operate a tractor and chainsaw
– Ability to lift at least 50 pounds
– Ability to communicate well verbally and in writing
– Ability to oversee a work crew, as well as manage projects collaboratively
– Ability to live and work in a small community
The Farm Apprentice is eligible for health insurance in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. Benefits include: health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, optional vision insurance, long-term disability, 403(b) retirement plan, paid time off and access to professional development funds. Some year-round farm crew members live on campus or in Wiscasset within the residential learning community; some farm crew members live off campus. This is a residential position; housing is provided. While most position responsibilities are similar for residential and non-residential crew members, residential farm crew members sometimes have additional evening or overnight responsibilities and are the first to respond in an on-farm emergency.
What to Expect from Us
Professional development and skill building is scaffolded throughout the apprentice’s time at Chewonki, focused on the areas of livestock, pasture, gardens, and forestry management. We meet as a full crew twice daily, and the apprentices each meet with their supervisor (the Farm Manager) one-on-one monthly for check-ins. Additionally, the full crew has a standing check-in each month and engages in monthly diversity, equity, and inclusion focused reflections. Professional development funds support skill building on- and off-farm. The farm team is committed to collaboration and works collectively to make mission-driven decisions while balancing production and education in a dynamic work environment. Additional mentorship is offered to the Farm Apprentice taking on residential responsibilities within the Maine Coast Semester program.