Thank you for your interest in apprenticing at Hawthorne Valley Farm. We are currently accepting applications for the 2015 season. In order to apply for an apprenticeship, please review this web page and download our Apprentice Handbook and Application 2015 (Updated August 1, 2014). Instructions for how to apply can be found on the last page.
We begin evaluating applications for all positions in August. The interview process consists of a phone interview and an on farm visit/workday for all qualified applicants.
Please see further below for details regarding apprenticeship compensation, additional learning opportunities within the apprenticeship program, and learning opportunities outside of the apprenticeship program. Please note, we are unable to accommodate international applicants, families, or pets.
Our Farm Apprenticeship Offerings
Whole Farm Apprenticeship: we have 3 of these positions; all start on the 1st Monday of February; 2 of them end Thanksgiving week and 2 of them end January 31st.
Field Vegetable Apprenticeship: we have 2 of these positions; both start March 15 and end Thanksgiving week.
Corner Garden Vegetable Apprenticeship: this position starts the 1st Monday in February and ends January 31st.
Advanced Apprenticeship, Field Vegetable: this position starts mid-March and ends mid-December. THIS POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED FOR THE 2015 SEASON.
Advanced Apprenticeship, Dairy Herd Management: this position starts in December and ends January 31st. A 2-year commitment for this position is preferred. THIS POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED FOR THE 2015 SEASON.
Field Manager Assistant: this position starts in the beginning of February and is a one year position.
All Hawthorne Valley Farm apprentices experience farming through hands-on learning on our diversified Biodynamic farm. Whole Farm Apprentices rotate through all areas of the farm, working with the field vegetables, Corner Garden, milking herd, and livestock operation. The farm focuses on both production and education. Because of the nature of the work, an apprentice should have some familiarity with the physical demands of farming, have spent some time working or volunteering on a farm (at least part of a season), be able to lift 50 pounds, work for several hours outdoors in a variety of weather conditions, and enjoy repetitive, even tedious, tasks.
Apprentices work with the farm team to learn the daily rhythms in each part of the farm. The Whole Farm Apprenticeship focuses on the overall picture of the farm including:
- Milking and livestock management
- Vegetable production: field, market garden, and greenhouse
- Grazing and pasture management
- Community supported agriculture
Whole Farm Apprentices are also exposed to the activities listed in the other apprenticeship descriptions below.
The Field Vegetable Apprenticeship provides the foundational knowledge for prospective farmers to experience a year in vegetable production. This apprenticeship involves working primarily within the field vegetable operation, which grows vegetables for Hawthorne Valley Farm’s 300-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and Greenmarket stands in New York City. Likely, 1 day a week or every other week, this apprentice will also work in the farm’s 2-acre intensive vegetable garden (where 4-wheel tractors are not used). Ideal applicants will have beginning experience in some type of vegetable enterprise.
This apprenticeship includes exposure to:
- The vegetable planting plans
- Vegetable growing using tractors
- Greenhouse propagation activities
- Cultivation and weeding
- Post-Harvest handling including washing and packing
- CSA, Farmer’s Market, and store sales
- Weekly field walks with the vegetable team to assess crops and plan for the upcoming week
The Corner Garden Vegetable (CGV) Apprenticeship provides an opportunity for a prospective farmer to experience and assist with the management of a 2-acre intensive vegetable garden. The CGV apprentice will help coordinate orders for multiple market outlets including the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store, its Deli, the NYC Greenmarkets, and the Visiting Students Program at the farm. The applicant should have experience with vegetable production and a strong capacity for physical work, as the Corner Garden primarily uses hand tools instead of tractors.
The Corner Garden apprentice will:
- Work closely with Corner Garden manager to organize daily/weekly tasks
- Oversee and collaborate with Whole Farm Apprentices in projects including seeding (greenhouse, direct seeding, and cover crops), transplanting, weeding, irrigation, trellising, season extension, crop protection (row covers and sprays), fertility (compost and sprays/teas), and biodynamic farming
- Monitor greenhouse propagation, including watering and winter growing
- Operate the BCS (two-wheel walk behind tractor) for tillage, bed preparation, cultivation, and mowing
- Coordinate harvesting with the Corner Garden manager and whole farm apprentices
- Communicate with Farm Store produce manager about weekly availability
- Participate in post-harvest washing, packing, storage, and delivery
- Support market development, expansion, and presentation
- Help maintain a harmonious and orderly relationship to nature, beneficial insects and plants, the grounds, the garden shed, and the wash area
- Work with volunteers including HVF employees, summer campers, participants in workshops, and other visitors
This position is responsible for assisting in all areas of production of our field vegetable operation, 12 acres providing for a 300-member CSA and five weekly NYC markets. The position requires at least 2 full seasons of vegetable production experience. Candidates should have both tractor and field work experience. Excellent communication, self-motivation, attention to detail, strong work ethic and good attitude are all requirements for the position. This is a leadership position and prior leadership experience is preferred. The apprentice will work directly with the Field Vegetable Manager to lead and manage daily operations and set and maintain the crew’s pace in the field.
When the Field Manager is not present the Crew Leader should expect to lead and oversee apprentices and volunteers in the following:
- Field Work: transplant, weeding, thinning, trellising, setting up irrigation and harvesting.
- Greenhouse: seeding flats, weeding, thinning, watering, preparation for transplanting, record keeping
- Wash Room: washing, sorting, packing and labeling all crops
- Tractor work: transplanting, bed preparation and mowing, tractor cultivation
- Distribution: loading the CSA truck for Thursday delivery and assisting with local Friday pick-up
The crew leader position starts mid-Februaryand goes through mid-December. Most often the crew leader will work 5 ½ days a week, but in the height of the season may be asked to put in additional hours if necessary. The crew leader will always have at least one full day off per week.
The Dairy Herd Management Apprenticeship provides the foundational knowledge for beginning farmers to pursue a career in animal husbandry. The central focus of this apprenticeship is the management of a biodynamic dairy herd. The applicant must have spent one full season on a production farm and also must have experience working with livestock. Experience with cows (dairy, beef, or draft) is highly encouraged.
For this position a 2-year commitment is preferred. The first year is focused on herd management. The second year emphasizes forage management (including harvest) and equipment use & maintenance.
Activities of this Apprentice include:
- Milking cows 6-10 times weekly and acting as lead-milker in the afternoon
- The general maintenance of barn
- Setting up fencing for the daily rotation of cows
- Overseeing and delegating tasks to whole farm apprentices and the Visiting Students Program
- Ensuring the daily feeding of young stock and pigs
- Assisting in calving and vet checks
- Participating in testing for cow health and milk quality
- Monitoring cow and calf health including administering homeopathic treatments
- Maintaining pig pastures and indoor housing
- Managing manure
This apprentice must also work well with others, be organized, be able to multitask, and enjoy working in all outdoor conditions.
The Field Manager Assistant is directly responsible to the Field Manager. This position is also a member of the livestock team and as a member is responsible for duties in relation to the cows and pigs. Hawthorne Valley Farm values the importance of sustainable managed organic feed for our dairy herd; this value is reflected in the field manager assistant position.
Under the direction of the Field Manager, this position participates in forage production, fertility management, grain production, and equipment maintenance. Fertility includes cover cropping, compost production, and application of biodynamic preparations.
This position requires a flexible schedule built around the forage harvest; this demands a 55 hour work week with the ability to work up to 80 hour/week during peak season. This apprentice must be independently motivated, and enjoy working in all outdoor conditions. This position is expected to assist in record keeping, time and task management.
- Ability to lift 60 pounds
- Fluency in tractor operation including extensive experience with diverse tractor operated implements
- Experience with ruminant livestock in a grass based production system
- Basic mechanical knowledge (welding and carpentry, a plus)
- Openness to biodynamic farming methods
- Desire to produce high quality feed with the goal of maintaining healthy and productive animals.
On-site housing and a monthly stipend are provided for all apprentices (see the handbook for more details). Each apprentice has his/her own bedroom in a shared space on the farm with a communal kitchen, baths, and living space. Often, surplus Hawthorne Valley vegetables, milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, sauerkraut, bread, and meat are available for the apprentices.
Thursday Morning Breakfasts
On an approximately monthly basis, we invite our Farm team to join for breakfast and conversations around farming. Aside from sharing and enjoying breakfast together, we discuss a topic of interest or assigned reading to deepen our understanding of living processes.
The Nature Institute
We arrange with the Nature Institute for six workshop sessions for HVF apprentices during their work time. These include three workshops in the spring about plant observation and three in the fall about animal observation. Each session is about one and a half hours long.
The Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) Program
HVF is one of the founding members of the original CRAFT program. We expect 1st-year apprentices (non-advanced) to attend each CRAFT farm visit. We structure apprentices’ work schedules around these events to allow this participation. CRAFT is an all-volunteer organization. For more information on this program, please visit the CRAFT website.
These activities are conveniently located and may be explored outside of work-time.
Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program
The Farmscape Ecology Program (FEP) has many walks, tours, and lectures open to the public. Amongst other programs, the FEP also coordinates a Farmers’ Research Circle in the winter. See the Farmscape Ecology Program website for more information on FEP activities.
The North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP)
Apprentices interested in the ideas behind biodynamic practices and techniques may sign up for NABDAP. This program offers a structured way to become increasingly proficient in BD agriculture through hands-on and classroom experiences. HVF apprentices already fulfill some of the requirements for this program. Further, the farm offers partial payment towards the classroom portion of the work. The HVF Place Based Learning Center has more information on this program.
Hudson Valley Farm Beginnings Program
The Hudson Valley Farm Beginnings Program, also run by the HVF Place Based Learning Center, helps aspiring and practicing farmers to create detailed goals, to strategically plan for the growth of their farming enterprises, to learn the basic skills around financial planning and marketing, and to look at various land tenure options. In addition to 7 class sessions, there are also private mentoring sessions with a farmer of one’s choosing and 4 field days on local farms. The Farm Beginnings Program starts in late October and ends in late winter.
Events Around Town
The Farm Staff will make an effort to keep the apprentice team informed about general upcoming events. However, apprentices are encouraged to keep their eyes and ears open to the many activities that spring up in our community. Bulletin boards, local papers, and other community members are often good sources for finding out about these events.