Nella Mae’s Farm Apprentice

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

Primary Contact: Kait Crowley
Primary Phone:
    Number: 541-588-3551



Internship information
General Farm Description: Nella Mae’s Farm is a produce farm managed with low-till, regenerative, and holistic practices. We also raise a few beef for market with my neighbor. Nella Mae sells at our on-farm farmstand, the La Grande Farmers Market, several retail outlets, one CSA, and 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. The 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. Nella Mae is learning to adapt every year. Most of the farms in the valley are hundreds or thousands of acres and grow grass, grains and sunflowers for seed, alfalfa, mint, and sugar beets. There is a healthy number of small-scale farms growing meat, produce, and nursery crops, and our small group of small farms is mutually supportive and highly collaborative. Nella Mae has found a huge amount of support locally large and small, as well as fellow business owners, customers, and neighbors as she has grown the farm. She looks forward to enhancing an Apprentice’s experience at the farm through sharing experiences with her own mentors and farmer friends. The 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. 2024 will be the 11th season of Nella Mae’s Farm, but she grew up on her family’s farm and started selling at the La Grande Farmers Market when she was 10 years old. However, due to the difficulty of farming, she was encouraged to leave agriculture 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, 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: 4/1/2024 - 5/15/2024
Internship Ends: 8/1/2024- 10/31/2024
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 Farm is part of Rogue Farm Corps’ beginning farmer training program. Hands-on field training at the Host Farm is complemented by a series of classes, farm tours, discussions, and networking events organized by Rogue Farm Corps.
Nella Mae’s provides wages and offers 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:
24 classes focused on foundational sustainable agriculture concepts, skills, and the food system.
7-10 farm tours which showcase practical skills and individual farmers’ stories and provide insight into diverse production and marketing systems.
3-5 discussion circles with topics including 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 farmworkers/farmers.

For more information on these events, please visit our event series page and sample schedule.

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. An Apprentice at the farm will have the opportunity to go as deep as they are interested in learning marketing, business, and staff management as well as the best practices on propagation, harvest, food safety, soil care, irrigation, plumbing, light construction, and the importance of developing a farm network. Training is integrated into work. Teaching and farming are linked in every activity on the farm. We take hour-long 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. Nella Mae works side by side with others on the farm for 80-90 percent of the day and talks in depth about ag practices, books, why we do things the way we do them, and how we got here. Nella Mae loves to discuss big ideas and is very involved in the policy and politics of agriculture, social justice, natural resources, and rural places.

Skills Desired: We are looking for a hard-working, self-motivated person who is able to communicate in a timely, and direct manner. Most important is someone who is curious, thinks deeply, asks questions, problem solves, and helps the farmer improve by giving feedback. An Apprentice must be able to work quickly and deftly with their hands. 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. We are happy to host Apprentices with no gardening or ag experience. We are looking for an Apprentice who is interested in plants and has some demonstrable experience doing physical labor. Due to our very rural location, the Apprentice should have their own reliable transportation. If the Apprentice does not have a car, please get in touch to discuss other options. An in-person visit is not required before a final placement decision is made but candidates may visit if they like.

Meals: Apprentice would be responsible for their own meals except crew lunches.

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: Compensation is $15/hour plus reimbursement of RFC tuition if/when the season is completed. This additional benefit works out to an equivalent of about $16/hour. Apprentices get all the produce they can eat and preserve, use of farm kitchen for food/preservation projects, a very flexible schedule for time off, hot lunch on harvest days, and use of farm library. 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 or in trade for working two Saturday markets per month. 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. Wood is provided for the wood stove in the tiny house. Pets and significant others are allowed on a case-by-case basis.

Preferred method of Contact: email