Michigan: Earthscape/Full Circle Farm seeks Apprentices

24 Feb
Location: Oceana County, rural West Michigan.  Lake Michigan beaches are 20 miles to the west.  The Manistee National Forest and White River are also close.

Time: May-October, 2011, 40 hours/weekYour browser may not support display of this image.

Compensation: $100/week, housing, some meals, opportunity to grow produce on your own for market, personal instruction

Bill and Patrice Bobier have farmed this land since 1971, providing food for themselves and others. They do the whole gamut – 50 family CSA, farmers market sales 1 day a week, all sorts of veggies, beef & chickens, possibly pigs again, baby chicks, and tend field crops so there’s some tractor work. They hope to put up a couple of larger hoophouses this year, too. They try to be available for teaching moments as much as possible. And can offer a lot of hand’s-on work experience and relay a lot of info over meals. A great opportunity for those looking to learn about natural, whole-farm systems, community-based agriculture with some of the most knowledgeable and experienced farmers anywhere.

Work you would be learning to do: Tillage – preparing ground for planting; Planting seeds. – in flats, in the ground by hand and machine. Learning about varieties and types; Transplanting plants grown on the farm – into dirt, black plastic, plots, rows; Succession planting to extend seasons; Upkeep – water needs, cultivating, pest and weed control; Weeding – by hand, machine, hoe; Harvesting – how to tell when things are ripe and in their prime. What keeps and what doesn’t. How to store.; Running a CSA – planning, picking, washing, packing. The ‘pretty’ details of keeping things looking good; Picking and packing for Farmers Market – and some sales. Check out Sweetwater Local Foods Market online; Possibly canning and freezing vegetables; Some field work is possible  – Hay and grain crops.; Fencing. Cow herding. Fencing. Chickens. Fencing. Pigs. Fencing; Perennial flower gardening.

From Patrice:

We post on multiple dry erase boards daily with what needs to be tended. Bill, Mike and I have different crops we take responsibility for.  We have a multi-year farm journal that tends to get forgotten in the heat of summer, but is a good guide at least part of the season. We are constantly trying to do more and get better at it.

Mike has worked here since 09.  We hold the land contract on his house and 40 acres and he works off his payment plus more. He has his own market garden and raises pigs and chickens.  We provide him access to tools and equipment, and our shop, too.

Patti worked here from June through October last year, and will be back this summer.  She’s easy to get along with.  We also have other people who work off their shares, some who have been with us for many years.

We can offer up to $100 per week,  and housing, and would expect 40 hours per week’s work, actually as much as you want to work. We are generally working about 10-12 hours per day most days, unless we are working off the farm.  There’s a small garden plot at the rental house ready to plant if you wanted to do some cropping on your own. We have more of a market than we can supply.

The housing provided is an old historic farm house 1 mile away, currently furnished downstairs and lived in by Patti, who is ‘house mother’, as the downstairs is furnished with her things. It has 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, all appliances including washer and dryer, and is on 2.5 acres on a main highway with the possibility to put in a Market Stand. It’s available till at least September – we may want to rent it out for winter (Patti rented it this winter). We would pay the cost for any materials to paint or fix up the bedroom area that you choose. We still need dressers and beds for the upstairs.

We are flexible about days, hours, lifestyles and more!  We depend on honest communication and reality-checks. We want commitment to the soil and growing food.

We would provide lunch on days you are here working, and a few suppers each week, especially on late-nights. There’s eggs and veggies here (anything that isn’t counted for CSA) that you can help yourself to.

We are having a hard time figuring out how to pay more per hour in wages when we both have always worked off the farm to support it. There’s no parity when compared with other wages / work. Growing healthy food is vital to LIFE, but unless you cop to the corporate system, it’s a low-income job, even for the farm owners. We aren’t sure we earn $10 per hr for our labors on the farm, but we do gain the equity.

We have had a lifetime of commitment to this place and sustainable farming, and want to pass on our knowledge and share opportunities!  We can use someone from May to October. Previous experience is preferred but not necessary.  References are required, and there will be a 1-2 week trial period.  If this appeals to you, send us your resume!

Bill and Patrice Bobier at Earthscape/Full Circle Farm 4220 E. Loop Road, Hesperia, MI  49421; 231-861-2234 pbobier@voyager.net www.earthscapefarm.blogspot.com

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