Contact informationFarm Address:
2812 Grimm Rd
Langley, Washington, 98260
Primary Contact: Stephanie Turco
Secondary Contact: Carlee
Internship informationGeneral Farm Description: Good Cheer Food Bank has been serving the South end of Whidbey Island since 1962 with the mission of creating a hunger-free community on South Whidbey. We are a choice-based food bank and focus on providing whole foods and fresh produce as much as possible. A commercial kitchen allows us to process and preserve excess food that is reaching the end of its life, thus limiting food waste and increasing options throughout the year. The food bank is chiefly funded by the revenues from two thrift stores. We are strongly supported by the local community and receive regular donations from local farms and backyard gardeners. Our volunteer- managed gleaning program harvests surpluses from privately-owned fruit and collects leftover produce from a farmers market once a week. This year we have been participating in the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Farm to Food Pantry Initiative and received funds to purchase products directly from local farmers. It has been a great way to give back to the farmers that have supported us in years past. Our gardens focus on growing produce in the fall, winter and spring when donations are at their lowest. We cultivate 1.25 acres on 2 sites a short distance apart. Our flagship garden was installed in front of the food bank in 2009. In 2016 we added a one-acre farm, the Big ACRE, on nearby unused school district property. The majority of the growing space at this site is planted in mid-summer and harvested from November to April. We follow organic practices and transitioned to a low- to no-till system in 2020. We have a beehive and hope this winter isn’t too long and harsh so the bees survive to next year. We also grow for the SW school cafeterias, school garden programs, and share produce with other hunger-relief or social support organizations around the Island. Good Cheer employs 22 full- and part-time staff (and 2 Americorps volunteers). The garden team is composed of 4 individuals: the garden manager, Stephanie, garden associate, Carlee (a new position this year), and two garden apprentices, hired each year. About Whidbey Island: Whidbey is a large, mostly rural island 45 minutes northwest of Seattle. The south end of the island is connected to the greater Seattle area via the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry. Ferry lines are an unfortunate reality in the summer, especially on weekends. The north end of the island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. There is a free bus system on the island but it is currently operating on a limited Monday-Friday schedule. The island is bikeable--drivers are used to seeing bikes on the road and most roads have decent shoulders. We are 1.5 hours from Anacortes and the San Juan ferry system (hopefully the Vancouver Island, Canada leg of this ferry will be back next summer), 2 hours from Bellingham, and 2.5 hours from North Cascades National Park. A second ferry route (35 minute travel time, reservations recommended) from Coupeville to Port Townsend offers access to the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Forest .
CRAFT Member Farm? No
Internship Starts: 3/1/2021
Internship Ends: 10/31/2021
Number of Internship Available: 2
Application Deadline: Priority deadline: Dec. 8, 2020, but we will continue to accept applicaitons and schedule interviews until the positions are filled.
Minimum Length of Stay: 6 months
There are two open apprentice positions:
–An Advanced Apprentice with at least one previous season working on a farm, or equivalent experience. Applicants for this position should be interested in learning farm management and taking on more responsibilities as the season progresses, including helping teach the beginning apprentice. Their hours and tasks will strongly mirror the work of the Garden Manager/Associate.
–A Beginning Apprentice who is looking to start a career in agriculture. Previous experience on a farm is not necessary, but applicants must demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in our food system and a strong understanding of the physical nature of farming and the time commitment it requires.
Apprenticeship Terms and Time Commitments:
–Advanced Apprentice: Early March (flexible, but ideally no later than March 15) through October 31; average 40 hours per week. We’re discussing extending this position through February 2021.
–Beginning Apprentice: flexible start date in April or May (could be later for the right candidate), through September 30, with the possibility of staying into October as work and interest allows; average 35 to 40 hours per week
Apprentices will be included in all aspects of farm management in order to fully understand the flexibility, forethought, and stamina a full season requires. They will work every third weekend covering basic duties like watering and opening and closing greenhouses. Additionally:
–Field Work – mostly hand powered, but we occasionally use a walk-behind tiller
–Propagation, Direct Seeding, Transplanting, and Irrigation
–Harvesting, Washing, Packing – estimating and communicating with the Produce Manager
–Record Keeping – planting, labor, materials, harvest totals
–Farm Maintenance – weeding, mowing, and keeping a clean workplace
–Plant and Soil Care – pest and disease scouting, soil amending, brewing compost tea, etc.
–Composting – building and turning hot compost piles, feeding worm bins
Apprentices will occasionally work in the food bank and donation center to better understand how our organization functions and to get to know the community. Apprentices can help the Produce Manager with processing projects and stocking the store, if interested. Other aspects of nonprofit management:
–Volunteer Coordination and Recruitment: individuals, service groups, work parties
–Outreach: social media, writing blog posts, connecting with food bank shoppers, site interpretation
–Community Engagement and Events
Work Week and Season:
Apprentices are expected to be present at the start of the work day–between 7:30 and 8:30 am. Farm work this far north has a noticeable seasonal shift. Work will pick up quickly in May and drop off just as quickly in late September following the increase and decrease in light and warmth. Hours per week will follow this same pattern and will be between 7 and 9 hours per day. We will keep a record of hours worked under and over 40 hours per week so the average across the season does not exceed this total.
Every Monday we spend the morning walking around the farm, making observations and taking notes about projects for the week. We will use these notes to plan out tasks and get an idea for what the week will look like. We give the farm walk however much time it needs to help apprentices understand the work, seasons, practices and how these relate to our broader food system (questions are encouraged).
While the day will often end on time, some days will be longer to finish big projects on tight deadlines, and apprentices are expected to stay until work is completed. These projects will be scheduled during our planning sessions so you will have a few days notice that you will have to stay a little later (and we often know they’re coming a week or two ahead of time).
Educational Opportunities: In accordance with the Washington State Farm Internship Project, the program will include lessons, trainings, and supplemental experiences to explore the theoretical aspects of farming that are equally important to a farmer’s development. Classes and trainings will be led by the Garden Manager or members of the Organic Farm School, the School Garden Program, or South Whidbey Tilth, WSU Extension, and Whidbey Island Growers Association. Some of these will take place outside of the regular work day. Additionally, apprentices will spend time on their own preparing for group discussions. This includes reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, watching short videos, and paying attention to the news surrounding agriculture. Apprentices are encouraged to pick a special project and will be given time during the work week to pursue areas of interest.
Skills Desired: What to expect: An educational, hands-on experience in small-scale farm management and extensive practice in agricultural skills; a production-focused work environment, repetitive manual labor, and, occasionally, tedious tasks; longer than typical work days during the height of the season and some weekend work throughout the season, but you’ll have advance notice of these; educational discussions, field trips and the opportunity to delve more deeply into areas of interest. As a nonprofit, we rely on volunteers so expect to be around people more than on a typical farm. Also expect to take part in community events that support the organization, garden, and apprenticeship program. What we expect: A strong, capable person who has a natural curiosity for agriculture and capacity for independent learning. Someone who observes carefully, takes initiative, and handles responsibility well; is interested in connecting with the community; is familiar with the physical demands of farming and understands that farming is not a typical 9-to-5 career; has the physical and mental strength to perform hard, manual labor outdoors in all weather conditions. A good team member who starts each workday present and ready to work. Please submit answers to the following questions with your application. Also include 1) a short personal summary, 2) resume or outline of work experience and education, 3) and contact information for three references. 1. What is your experience farming or gardening and what are your expectations for this apprenticeship? a. If you do not have one full season of farming experience, please also include: Why do you want to farm, and what life experiences have led you to apply for this apprenticeship? What is your understanding of farming, in terms of time commitment, seasonal changes, and physical demand? What transferable experiences and skills do you have that will help you learn and excel during the apprenticeship? 2 a. Your education will primarily be through on-the-job training, classes, and discussions. What is something related to agriculture that you are interested in learning more about? b. You will also be asked to put in time on your own preparing for these lessons and discussions, as well as paying attention to changes and advances in farming. Please speak to you ability to learn independently and how you learn best. What is something you have taught yourself? 3. Farming is physically hard, requiring both strength and stamina. What is the hardest work, both physical and mental, you’ve done? 4. What is your experience living with other people or in a community? What are your needs as it relates to housing--allergies, dietary restrictions, quiet hours, level of social interaction at home, etc.? a. Do you have pets, and if so, are you prepared to find your own housing? 5. Do you have a car? Can you drive a manual transmission (this is not a prerequisite, but would allow you to drive the farm truck on farm errands)? If you do not have a car, what is your preferred method of transportation? 6. What is your favorite vegetable? 7. Is there anything else you would like us to know? Applications are due Dec. 8, 2020. The interview period will begin Dec. 14, 2020. We will notify candidates about the position by the end of January. Visits are encouraged and can be scheduled prior to the interview period. If you require an exception to this timeline, please let us know!
Meals: Apprentices have access to unlimited food from the food bank and produce from gardens. Lunch and snacks are available every day at the food bank.
Stipend: Monthly stipend, and a pay increase after successful training period: --Advanced apprentice: $600/month, increased to $800--Beginning apprentice: $500/month, increased to $600Apprentices also accrue paid time off (vacation and sick leave)
Housing: Yes, typically in the form of a homestay; at a minimum apprentices will have a private room and access to shared living spaces A note to applicants with pets: none of our current homestay hosts allow pets. You are welcome to apply, but understand that you will be responsible for finding your own housing. Please clearly state in your application if you have pets and that you understand this limitation.
Preferred method of Contact: email