Grange Road Growers Assistant Farm Manager
Last Updated On: enero 23rd, 2023 at 07:21AM MST
Contact informationFarm Address:
PO BOX 1722
Paonia, Colorado, 81428
Primary Contact: Laura Pfenning
Internship informationGeneral Farm Description: Grange Road Growers is a 1 acre market garden and family homestead surrounded by 17 acres of pastures for cows and chickens, and hopefully sheep in the near future. We rent the land from a rancher who lives on an adjacent section of land. We enjoy beautiful views of mountains and orchards in all directions. Although there is much more field work in the summer, we grow almost year round in hoop houses. We sell produce to a local wholesaler, a multi-farm CSA, a new producer's market (online ordering and in-person pick-up), and a few restaurants and grocery stores nearby. We may begin working with a regional seed producer and grow a couple crops for seed this year. Our primary crops are carrots, lettuce mix, head lettuce, beets, and kale, but we grow smaller quantities of a wide variety of annual vegetables as well as perennials like strawberries, raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb, and cut flowers. Meet the Farm Managers This is our second year farming together full time at this location. We are a couple, Chris and Laura, who each had experience farming before we met. Laura became interested in farming in high school by working at a CSA farm in Fort Collins, CO. She studied Organic Agriculture at CSU and then worked on several farms after college in Maine, upstate New York, and Colorado to learn different styles of farming. In between farming, she taught elementary school for three years, but she now prefers to teach motivated learners how to farm, and applies her organizational skills to the planning of plantings. Chris found farming through natural building work in SE Ohio, close to where he grew up. He worked for someone who used draft horses to log timbers for framing straw bale houses, and they would sometimes use the draft horses in the builder's large home garden. Chris became inspired by this family's self-sufficient lifestyle, as he had always cared about quality work and found it lacking in the modern world. Chris transitioned from logging and building to farming by interning on two small farms in Paonia before taking on the responsibility of running his own farm in Utah, and then Colorado again. Chris brings to the farm a high standard of quality, attention to detail, a sense of humor, strength, and a passion for finding the right tool for every task, so that farming is hard in a pleasant sort of way, with no unnecessary suffering. Growing Methods We use a human-scale style of farming and no-till practices as much as possible to build structure and life in the soil, and to keep weed seeds from surfacing. We grow on 30-inch wide beds, which are comfortable to work with hand tools as it allows us to reach the center of the bed or straddle the bed. To prepare the soil, we broadfork in the spring, spread organic amendments and peat moss, and power harrow the top inch to create a light and even bed for seeding. For most crops, we start seeds in the greenhouse and transplant to the field. When a crop has been harvested, we mow, water, cover it with a silage tarp, and let earth worms do the rest of the work breaking down the organic matter. We are transitioning towards cover cropping and rotating animals to build soil fertility, rather than purchasing inputs. We use several pest management strategies to avoid spraying chemicals. We use shade cloth, insect net, row covers, hoop houses, and variety trialing to produce the best tasting vegetables possible in all kinds of harsh weather conditions. We do lots and lots of cultivating, but try to do very little weeding. However, we always have bindweed and a few other perennials to weed. We irrigate with either drip tape or wobbler sprinklers, and use flood irrigation on the pastures. Western Colorado has a fairly long growing season. We get little rain most months of the summer so a big part of our work is irrigation, but we have fewer pest and disease problems than more humid climates.
CRAFT Member Farm? No
Internship Starts: March 1, 2023
Internship Ends: February 28, 2024
Number of Internship Available: 1.5
Application Deadline: February 21, 2023
Minimum Length of Stay: 6 months
You may be the right candidate for this position if one of your primary focuses in life right now is to learn how to farm. You love good food, hard work, being self-reliant, producing something tangible for your community, a lifestyle dependent on daylight and influenced by the seasons, being outside, going to bed early, feeling alive and connected, and the friendships that develop around these values. Either you envision yourself starting your own farm, becoming a farm manager, or you are open to taking on more and more of a leadership role with us as we grow our farm. Maybe you have a special interest, such as animal husbandry, cover cropping, irrigation, leading a harvest crew, or even organizing a kids camp, and after a year of doing a little bit of everything you want to create a specialized job for yourself here. Although Chris and Laura have nearly 20 years combined experience growing vegetables organically, this is only our third year farming together on this plot of land, so we are in the start-up phase and need self-motivated people to bring their own skills and passions and help us create the vision. Ideally you have 1-2 years of experience working on another vegetable farm, but we will consider highly motivated applicants whose only experience is backyard gardening. A studio apartment furnished with bare essentials is provided for on-farm housing suitable for 1 person or a couple. If a couple applies, one person may apply for this role and the other interview for part-time work during the summer consisting of weeding, harvesting, and washing vegetables.
Seasonal Work Schedule and Compensation
Work is year-round, beginning in February or March. During the Spring and Fall you will be working with one farm manager or independently, and during the summer you will have the added responsibility of leading a small crew of part-time workers in field work of weeding some days, or harvesting and then washing and packing produce in the wash station. Pay starts at $15/ hr and will be renegotiated at the end of the season. On-farm housing, including utilities, internet and trash pick-up, is offered for $450/ month. We prefer that you live on-site or within a 10-minute drive. We also give an end-of-the-year bonus of $350 if you stick around until December. Besides hourly pay, you will receive a share of all the food the farm produces. This is an example of what your schedule will probably look like:
February- March: 12 hrs/ wk (flexible)
April- June: 35 hrs/ wk, Sun- Thurs 8-12 and 1:30-4, Fri 8- 10:30
July- September: 40 hrs/wk, Sun- Thurs 7-12 and 3-5, Fri 7-12
October: 30 hrs/ wk, Sun- Fri 9-1 (and 2-4 some days)
November: 16 hrs/ wk, Mon- Thurs 9-1
December- January: 7 hrs/ wk or 30 hrs/ month (a good time to travel or take time off)
- 1-2 years full time farming experience on a mostly human-powered organic vegetable farm (previous experience must include multiple types of weeding with hand tools, harvesting and making consistent bunch sizes, and post-harvest handling; preferable to have experience irrigating, seeding and transplanting as well).
- Comfortable using battery powered hand tools for simple construction projects.
- Healthy, physically fit, strong hands for weeding, able to lift 50 lbs, and have the back and leg strength to weed or harvest without sitting down as you move down a garden bed.
- Can do detailed and tedious work like thinning carrots.
- Positive attitude: ability to press through discouragement and creatively find solutions.
- Motivated to learn our farming methods (there are many ways to farm but we have found methods that work for our scale and growing conditions).
- A good learner: remembers things and is curious, pays attention to instructions, notices signs that a plant or tool or the soil is giving that should change the way a task is done.
- Integrity and self-motivation: produces the same quality of work while working alone as with a manager or crew.
- Emotionally mature and works well with others. Able to communicate clearly and adequately, work through conflict respectfully, and carry on a conversation while working as a group without slowing down or losing focus on the task.
- Organizational skills: brings the tools, supplies, and personal belongings needed for several hours in the field without wasting time making multiple trips back to the house/ shed.
- Patient: has mental endurance to do a repetitive task for multiple hours, or to pick the same bed of tomatoes every 3 days.
- Honest and responsible: reports mistakes and makes an effort to fix them.
- Completes jobs, takes initiative to notice what needs done next or to ask for direction.
- Trustworthy: the type of person we can trust to take good care of all aspects of the farm while we take off for a week to visit family in another state.
- Leadership skills: communicates clear instructions to workers or volunteers and gives helpful feedback or correction, able to motivate workers and keep the morale high.
- Flexible to work extra one day to finish a task and stop early another day (although we will generally keep a routine weekly schedule that only changes seasonally).
- Willing to work outside in harsh weather conditions (windy spring days, 95 degree hot and dry days, in rain or snow if a harvest requires it). Comes prepared for the weather to change in an instant.
- Work quickly and carefully and set the pace for other workers: soil preparation, moving tarps, seeding, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, washing/ packing vegetables.
- Assist with local deliveries.
- Share greenhouse watering and animal chores.
- Fix problems when you see them.
- Come to work well rested.
- Respect farm managers and be devoted to the farm by not taking personal phone calls or texts during work hours, or taking frequent breaks.
- Farm sit 1-2 weeks per year during slower season.
- Visit the farm for an in-person interview and tour after an initial phone interview.
- After a two week trial period, commit to working a full season with at least one day off a week, full time work in the summer, part-time work in the shoulder seasons, and minimal work in the late winter. More time off in the winter can be negotiated if desired.
Educational Opportunities: See Internship Description and Farming Methods.
Skills Desired: See Requirements.
Meals: All workers can take a share of the farm's produce each week.
Preferred method of Contact: Email