Nella Mae’s Farm Apprentice

Contact information
Farm Address:
69361 Antles Lane
Cove, Oregon, 97824

Primary Contact: Matt Gordon
Primary Phone:
    Number: 541-588-3550



Internship information
General Farm Description: Nella Mae’s Farm is a produce farm managed with low-till, regenerative and holistic practices. Depending on the year, we also raise a few beef for market or graze our neighbors steers. We sell at our on-farm farmstand, the La Grande Farmers Market, several retail outlets, one CSA, and six restaurants in two counties. Nella Mae’s Farm is at the base of the Wallowa Mountains in northeast Oregon. We have woods and wildlife habitat on our place and farm and graze five acres. Our farm is just outside the “city” of Cove, population 500. Cove is on the east side of the Grande Ronde Valley, population 26,000, one of the largest round valleys in the world. While this is technically high desert, the snow melt, rivers and a high water table make this place rich for agriculture. We also face a short spring, extreme temperature swings in the summer, and increasingly variable weather. We are learning to adapt every year. Most of the farms in the valley are hundreds or thousands of acres and grow grains and sunflowers for seed, alfalfa, mint and sugar beets. We have a healthy number of small-scale farms growing meat, produce, and nursery crops, and our small group of small farms is mutually supportive and collaborative with our fellow farmers. I have found a huge amount of support locally large and small, as well as fellow business owners, customers, and neighbors as I have grown my farm. I look forward to enhancing an apprentice’s experience at our farm through sharing experiences with my own mentors and farmer friends. Our farm crew is small and tight-knit. Many of the folks who work at our farm work at a neighboring nursery run by Nella Mae’s mentors as well. We have a friendly, fun crew and focus on collaboration, teamwork, improving systems together, and eating well. Nella Mae cooks lunch for the crew every harvest day. 2023 will be the 10th season of Nella Mae’s Farm, but she grew up growing produce on her family farm and started selling at the La Grande Farmers Market when she was 10 years old. She grew up in 4H and small-scale, family agriculture, but was encouraged to leave it behind and go to college. Her return to agriculture was a surprise to everyone, and was made possible by the local food movement of the 2000’s. Nella Mae’s philosophy is influenced primarily by Holistic Management, lean farming, no/low-till practices, and by agricultural and soil science. The farm’s purpose is to feed our community, build soil, and enhance the wellbeing of the land and those who tend it.

CRAFT Member Farm? No

Internship Starts: 4/1/2023 - 6/15/2023
Internship Ends: 8/1/2023 - 10/31/2023
Number of Internship Available: 1
Application Deadline: Rolling applications until early to mid-March
Minimum Length of Stay: 500 training hours (~3-4 months minimum)

Internship Details:

An Apprenticeship at Nella Mae’s is part of the Rogue Farm Corps beginning farmer training program. Hands-on field training at the host farm is augmented by a series of classes, farm tours, discussions, and networking events organized by Rogue Farm Corps. Nella Mae’s provides wages and offer housing and some food as well. Start and end dates flexible, but will generally be spring/early summer through fall.

Rogue Farm Corps seeks to train an inclusive next generation of farmers and encourages applicants of all backgrounds and identities to apply. Scholarships for program fees are available.

To see an overview of all our farmer training programs, see our Farmer Training Programs page.

No experience is required to apply, however we recommend that applicants have some prior agricultural exposure/experience or physical/outdoor work experience. Many host farms prefer applicants who have some previous outdoor or physical work experience.

Apprentices join other beginning farmers for an Educational Event Series facilitated by Rogue Farm Corps.

The full event series includes:
15-20 classes focused on foundational sustainable agriculture concepts, skills, and knowledge and the food system.
10-13 farm tours which showcase practical skills and individual farmers’ stories, as well as provide insight into diverse production and marketing systems.
3-5 discussion circles with topics including Farm and Food Advocacy, Food Justice / Food Sovereignty, and Next Steps for Beginning Farmers.

RFC strives to make all educational events inclusive and welcoming to people from all backgrounds and identities. Classes, tours, and discussions are led by Rogue Farm Corps staff, agricultural professionals, and expert farmers.

Educational Opportunities: Skills taught at the farm include seed starting, transplanting, direct seeding, harvesting, produce processing, marketing, use of equipment, farm business management skills, sales, and customer service. I am an open book on finances and believe every farmer should understand how to use Quickbooks and budgeting tools. Training is integrated into work. We learn by doing and discuss things in more depth during lunch. Teaching and farming are linked in every activity on the farm. In the past, depending on employee or intern interest, we take hour lunches to discuss finances, bookkeeping, no-till practices, etc. Every day at lunch is our check-in time. The rest of the training happens each morning as we plan out the day together, walk the fields, and review best practices. Discussion happens in real time while we work together. I work side by side with others on the farm for 80-90 percent of the day and talk in depth about ag practices, books, why we do things the way we do them, and how we got here.

Skills Desired: QUALIFICATIONS We are looking for a hard-working, self-motivated person who is able to communicate in a timely, direct manner and ask questions. An apprentice must be able to work quickly and deftly with their hands. This person must be able to follow directions of the farm manager and provide constructive feedback about operations. Attention to detail and adherence to our food safety procedures is critical. Applicants should be ready for physical work and to lift 30lbs regularly. They should also be able to work outside in all weather conditions from rain to heat. We invite a person of any skill level to apply for as long as they are excited to learn about farming and work outside. The apprentice is required to have their own reliable transportation. An in-person visit is not required before a final placement decision is made.

Meals: We provide hot lunch on harvest days (Tuesday & Friday) plus all the produce you can eat and preserve and use of farm kitchen for food/preservation projects.

Stipend: -Compensation is $15/hour plus reimbursement of RFC tuition if/when season is completed
-Very flexible schedule for time off
-Use of farm library

Housing: An 8x20 tiny house with electricity, wood heat, propane cook stove, and outhouse is available for apprentice housing. Shower is available in the main farm building. Rent is $250 per month. Pets are allowed on a case-by-case basis. The tiny house is private from the main farm house, separated by a creek line. Wifi is available at the farm, but not at the tiny house. Apprentice will have access to the farm office for wifi, on-line meetings, watching movies, etc. There is cell service throughout the farm. Apprentice would be responsible for their own meals except crew lunches. Wood is provided for the wood stove in the tiny house.

Preferred method of Contact: email