Against the Grain

Contact information
Farm Address:
619 Camp Joy Rd
Zionville, North Carolina, 28698

Primary Contact: Holly Whitesides
Secondary Contact: Andrew Bryant

Primary Phone:
    Number: 8284064439

Secondary Phone
    Number: 828-773-9383



Internship information
General Farm Description: Against the Grain is a community based, small-scale diversified farm located 15 minutes from downtown Boone in Zionville, NC. The farm is situated on 35-acres in the Blue Ridge mountains and raises a broad spectrum of certified Biodynamic and Organic vegetables on a little under 2 acres, as well as Animal Welfare Approved, GMO-free, pastured pork, beef and goat. We focus on four main market channels, including a weekly farmer's market, a 20 week/120-member vegetable CSA, several area restaurants, and a local food hub. The 2023 season will be our twelfth year in crop production and tenth year in animal production at our current farm place. We are continuing to refine our crop rotation, cover crop management, harvesting and composting techniques. Our focus at Against the Grain is to nurture both the soil and each other in order to grow high quality, nutritious food for our local community. We are seeking a diversity of passionate people who LOVE agriculture and possess adaptability, emotional clarity, motivation and physical resilience. At ATG, we believe that agriculture is a spiritual practice tending toward health in mind, body, and spirit. Attention, mindfulness, and living in the reality of the present moment allow us to encourage care for our land, our community and one another. We also believe in the power of diversity in all living systems. As we strive for more equity and inclusion in agriculture, we especially encourage applications from BIPOC and LGBTQ individuals.

CRAFT Member Farm? Yes

Internship Starts: March through April
Internship Ends: October-November (with options in winter 2023/2024 growing season)
Number of Internship Available: 1
Application Deadline: until filled
Minimum Length of Stay: 8 months, with option for 2-4 years

Internship Details:

For the 2023 season, we are still hiring for the position of harvest assistant. If you’re ready to work on a dynamic, creative, innovative farm, and take the next step in your farming journey and build your leadership skills, we welcome you to apply to work at ATG!

All crew members will work in cooperation with co-farmers, Holly and Andy, as well as the farm manager.

Position Specifics:
All members of the farm crew work at large on all aspects of vegetable production and harvest. In addition, each crew member is also a member of one or more teams, which address special areas of focus on the farm. These teams include production, harvest, Biodynamic/compost, livestock, greenhouse and community. A more detailed description of each team is available on request.

Crew positions are designed to empower crew members to develop leadership and problem-solving skills in one particular area, however participating on the teams at large will enable crew members to maintain a connection with the wider pulse and vision of the farm. Committing to multiple seasons on the farm allows a more immersive experience, which can facilitate emotional and spiritual growth and development.

Position Specifics:
Harvest Assistant Description:
-assist the harvest manager (Andy) in coordinating the bi-weekly harvests for the CSA, restaurants, and farmer’s market
-organize and facilitate the flow of the pack shed
-spearhead quality control
-facilitate packing orders for all market channels
-communicate with harvest crew regarding amounts of produce needed
-keep pack shed and walk in coolers clean and organized
-coordinate with marketing manager (Holly) in the delivery of bi-weekly restaurant orders
-co-manage CSA online customization software (optional and maybe)
-take a lead role on the harvest team

Production Assistant:
-update field maps weekly
-coordinate with the production manager to flip and prepare beds for planting
-conduct weekly field walks taking note of both harvestability and production needs
-high tunnel/caterpillar tunnel management
-take a lead role on the production team

Compost Maker/Biodynamic Assistant:
-coordinate to gather and compose compost ingredients into well-formed compost piles, insert BD preps and keep necessary records
-assist with BD preparation making
-stir and apply BD field preparations in consultation with farmers, farm manager and M
-take a lead role on the compost/biodynamic team

Greenhouse Assistant:
-seed trays in the greenhouse
-engage in daily greenhouse chores (venting and watering)
-manage weekly sunflower shoot and pea shoot production
-manage the hardening-off table
-communicate with farmers about transplant readiness
-take a lead role on the greenhouse team

Livestock Assistant:
-stay connected to all species in terms of livestock health, paddock/pasture rotations, feed and water usage and infrastructure requirements (drinkers, feeders, fencing, etc.)
-care for small Highland herd, including electric fence maintenance and manure collection for compost
-take a lead role on the livestock team

Educational Opportunities: We always try to give instructions as we go and try to explain “how” and “why” along the way. We plan to have regular evening discussion/films on topics including soil fertility, Biodynamics, community dynamics and just plain fun. We also have a small farm library, to which apprentices and interns will have full access. We are not specifically a teaching farm, but we will do our best to convey as much of our knowledge as we can reasonably, while we work, and we offer crew members the chance to review our annual financials and crop analysis. There is a CRAFT network, hosted by Blue Ridge Women in Ag, which hosted field days on farms in our area, and we strongly encourage interns to attend.

Skills Desired: Crew Position Requirements (general): -Extensive experience: A minimum of one full main growing season (or equivalent experience) on another Biodynamic or Organic farm(s). We anticipate that applicants will have some experience in some areas of small-scale agriculture including seeding and transplanting, soil fertility, pest management, irrigation, harvesting, marketing and livestock management. Less experience considered, with an appropriate adjustment in the starting monthly stipend. -A passion for growing vegetables and a love for agricultural labor. -The ability to crouch, squat, bend and kneel for extended periods of time. -The ability to lift 30lbs frequently and 50lbs regularly. -A valid driver’s license and clean driving record for the past 5 years. -The ability to engage in self-care. Farming can be very challenging both physically and emotionally. It is imperative that crew members have the ability to care for themselves in ways that enable them to contribute constructively to the crew and community. -The capacity to contribute to and maintain a collaborative and cooperative work environment, including strong communication skills as well as a constructive approach to problem solving. -A commitment to work at ATG for full growing season (at minimum). The growing season ramps up in mid to late February and winds down in October/November. Modified work schedules and equivalent income through the winter is an option for crew members who are staying for another season. -Adaptability and flexibility are key. The vegetables are the economic engine of ATG, and as a result they require a lot of time and attention. All crew members will participate in vegetable field production and harvesting in addition to their responsibilities associated with specific positions. -Ability to work independently and as well as on a team. Crew members will be working side-by-side with farmers and farm manager frequently at the beginning of the season. But as the season progresses, the farmers have tasks around the farm that are their responsibility alone, which leaves crew members to work more independently. However, because ATG is a relatively small farming operation, we place a strong emphasis on teamwork and group dynamics. -The drive for independent learning and innovation. It is imperative that crew members have a passion for knowledge around both general and specific aspects of growing food for body, soul and spirit. We will support this with access to the on-farm library as well as facilitated evening discussions (based on interest and crew motivation). Additionally, there are two CRAFT networks, hosted by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and Organic Growers School, which host field days on farms in our area, and we strongly encourage crew members to attend. -Willingness to engage in community building and shared space upkeep. The work of the farm does not happen in isolation to the dynamic of our core community. Attendance at a monthly meeting/potluck is required in addition to chores surrounding living in community. The inability to equitably contribute to keeping the shared living spaces clean will result in a reconsideration of employment at ATG. -Ability to work quickly and efficiently while keeping an eye on details. -Covid vaccinations are not required and there is no mask mandate on the farm. Position Preferences: -Preference given to applicants who are interested in investing in deep community development and spiritual growth. -Experience in Biodynamic agriculture is a major plus. -Ideally, crew members will engage in a 2-to-4-year commitment to living and working at ATG.

Meals: No, apprentices are responsible for preparing their own meals but unlimited produce and a meat stipend are provided by the farm. Friday community lunches are provided, as there are crew members available to assist in preparation.

Stipend: Monthly stipend amount will be based on experience and is negotiable, but generally, we will start full time crew members (45-50 hours/week) at $1200/month. If applicants have less than one full growing season (or equivalent), monthly stipend will be pro-rated accordingly. All crew members will be paid as employees, with payroll taxes withheld. Meat and vegetables are also supplied by the farm as compensation in addition to the stipend.

Housing: Yes, housing includes insulated sleep sheds with basic power and a common kitchen for cooking. There are composting toilets and a four-seasons insulated shower with hot water. There is also a hot tub on the farm available to crew. In kind room and board valued at $350/month.

Preferred method of Contact: email