Shakefork Community Farm
Last Updated On: August 30th, 2023 at 10:51AM MST
Contact informationFarm Address:
7914 State Hwy 36
Carlotta, California, 95528
Primary Contact: Melanie Cunningham
Secondary Contact: Kevin Cunningham; please cc on all email correspondence, thank you!
Internship informationGeneral Farm Description: We are a regenerative, oxen powered family farm located in Humboldt County, CA, closer to Oregon than San Francisco. Our 85 acre-farm consists of 6 acres under intensive, low-till vegetable and berry production, including 4 high tunnels. We move cattle, laying hens, broiler chickens and turkeys on 30 acres of pasture using the principles of Holistic Management (as promoted by Allan Savory, UVE Hub, Savory Institute and other regenerative land stewards. The rest of our farm is devoted to a wild riparian corridor along the Van Duzen River, a tributary of the mighty Eel River, the 3rd largest river system in California. Although we are only 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean as the crow flies, our farm in Carlotta is usually just beyond the reach of Humboldt County’s coastal fog.
All our production is direct marketed within 50 miles of our farm. We provide weekly boxes for 150 CSA members June through October, attend 2 farmers’ markets (one year-round), and sell to our local food hub, schools, food bank, and favorite restaurants. Our garden work is accomplished with a hybrid of human & oxen draft, power, with oxen providing the muscle for bed shaping and aeration (essentially broadforking), as well as daily moves of all livestock structures. Working with our 2 teams is a huge part what apprentices do.
We strive to provide for most of our own needs from the farm, from lumber to compost, salad to potatoes, ghee to grass-finished beef. We deeply value our home dairy for the nutrient dense, wholesome and abundant products we derive, as well as the pigs we fatten with the skim, by-products of cream separation and butter making. We feed and are fed by a strong connection with our land and with our community. Feeding our family, our farm-ily, and our community the best food on the planet is a huge part of why we farm.
While we value self-sufficiency, we want to emphasize that we are a production farm and make our living entirely from the products we grow and sell. Most of the year, farm life is fast paced, dynamic and very full. A focused, driven and attentive team is crucial to the success of the farm.
While we are not certified organic, we do use strictly organic practices and strive beyond merely sustainable to a regenerative agriculture focused on building and improving soil health. To that end, we are committed to low till methods in the garden and minimal tractor work. Providing for our own fertility needs from the farm itself is a primary focus of our daily work. Our family dairy is a huge part of our fertility program, as are our three oxen teams. We are oxen-powered in more ways than one!
CRAFT Member Farm? No
Internship Starts: All positions are currently full for the 2023 season. Must be a self starter, super positive person. Please email with a letter of interest and request an application. We encourage a working interview whenever possible. If doing so presents a hardship, we can discuss a video alternative.
Internship Ends: Negotiable. Ideally Winter Solstice 2023, for the right fit. Many folks stay on for multiple seasons. We encourage all apprentices / employees to take personal time off at some point December-February.
Number of Internship Available: Up to 4 total positions. Couples who wish to farm together are welcome to apply. No kids or pets please.
Application Deadline: Apprenticeship applications are accepted on a rolling basis until positions are filled (usually by early-mid January); early applications are considered first. Prior experience on a working farm is highly recommended. Applicants must be 18 years or older and have authorization to work in the U.S.
Minimum Length of Stay: Full season preferred, March through December. Shorter term stays negotiable. Longer commitment + more experience = more responsibility + higher pay.
Our program is a hands-on, intensive training for future farmers, regenerative land stewards, and aspiring land-based entrepreneurs. Let us Be clear: YOU WILL WORK HARDER THAN YOU HAVE EVER WORKED BEFORE (they all tell us that!) AND, it will be fun, life changing and informative!! Expect to work 35-50 hours a week, depending on where we’re at in the season, or an average of 45 hours a week. (Work days are lighter in the darker days of early spring and late fall and longer in the bright days of high summer.) The main season schedule is typically 8 to 6p, 5 days a week, with a one-hour break for lunch. Through close mentoring, you will learn about every aspect of our diversified farm throughout the season and become skillful in a wide range of livestock care, chicken slaughter, basic teamster skills, and a diversity of garden tasks including low-till growing techniques, cultivation, irrigation and post harvest handling. Past apprentices have thanked us for our thorough training and very high standards. You will be exposed to the core business principles and practices that make for a successful farm, including holistic management, regenerative practices, financial management, enterprise budgeting, price setting, marketing principles, record keeping, CSA management, CSA newsletter copy, production planning and more.
We value high performing individuals with a real passion for this work. We hold our crew and ourselves to a high standard. We run a very professional operation and take pleasure in working hard to grow great food for our community.
• Work closely with livestock including oxen teams, cattle, layers, broilers, turkeys, livestock guarding dogs and pigs.
• Feed, water and care for livestock with daily moves.
• Set up electric cattle fencing.
• Slaughter, butcher and package chicken for sale.
• Collect and pack eggs.
• Manage irrigation systems.
• Observe grassland dynamics and planned grazing systems.
• Sow seeds in prop house and up-pot when needed.
• Understand succession planting techniques.
• Amend and prep beds for planting.
• Transplant and direct seed garden crops.
• Irrigate, weed, and generally care for crops to maturity.
• Trellis and prune high tunnel crops.
• Harvest, wash and pack produce for market or CSA.
• Pack CSA boxes.
• Communicate with customers and provide excellent customer service.
• Clean and organize farm facilities.
• Occultation and other low-till farming methods.
• Use and maintain hand tools and power equipment, including our BCS walk behind tractor, Red Dragon flame-weeder, and more.
From Gregg, a 2018 apprentice:
“This year has been so transformative for me in many, many ways. I learned so much, not only about farming but how to live in and contribute to a community and what it means for me to live a good life, to feel at home somewhere. I’ve given a lot of myself to the farm, but I am grateful, so grateful, for how much you give back to the community and to the crew in teaching and growing a group of younger farmers. It’s been a life altering experience for certain. I know I will draw on this experience for a lot of years.”
Educational Opportunities: The work at Shakefork Community Farm is incredibly diverse due to the wide scope of our operation. There is a seasonal rhythm to our work and you can expect daily tasks to vary from day to day, week to week and throughout the season. Lively lunchtime discussions cover a range of topics, from the philosophical to the practical. Opportunities for group readings and outings to other area farms are available and encouraged, depending on the interests and initiative shown by each year’s crew. In recent years we have toured a mushroom facility, commercial regenerative dairies, other CSA farms, and more. In the slower winter months we offer workshops on the behind the scenes of farming: production planning, enterprise budgeting, financial review, Quickbooks, email marketing and more. Bring your enthusiasm and questions... we love to share what we know!
Skills Desired: Required: • A great attitude. We stress this again and again because IT MATTERS. MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. Skills can be taught, attitude arises from within. • Good physical health and fitness / athleticism. • No tobacco use. No cannabis use. • Ability to complete heavy lifting tasks ergonomically (30 pounds regularly, 50 pounds occasionally). • Willingness to work on weekends and holidays, as well as pull 10 hour plus days when needed. • Effective communication skills. • An ability and authentic desire to help customers. • Drivers License and clean driving record. • Willingness to keep records and take notes. • An efficiency mindset; the ability to hustle and multi-task. • Attention to detail. • Willingness to slaughter animals for meat. • Excellent stress and conflict management skills. • We'll say it again: No tobacco use. No cannabis use. • Omnivores only. Must value good, real food. • No pets. Preferred: • Customer service experience. • Previous farm experience. • Experience using small tools and equipment. • Knowledge and awareness of current challenges and dysfunction of US and global food system. • Teamster experience (very rare, we know!) Competencies: • Food Values - Values high quality food and ingredients raised conscientiously; strives for physical and emotional health. • Teamwork – Contributes to building a positive team spirit; avoids broodiness; exhibits objectivity and openness to others’ views; gives and welcomes feedback; able to build morale and group commitments to daily and seasonal farm goals and objectives. • Diversity – Shows respect and sensitivity for cultural differences; treats all members of the team with respect and fairness, regardless of gender orientation, sexual orientation, age, race, and skill level. • Attendance / Punctuality – Is consistently at work on time; returns from breaks at arranged time; schedules time off well in advance. • Dependability – Follows instructions; responds to management direction; demonstrates a non-defensive learning style; takes responsibility for own actions; completes tasks on time or notifies appropriate person; demonstrates thoroughness in completing a project. • Oral Communication – Participates in meetings; listens and gets clarification; responds well to questions; checks in with management before and after a workday. • Written Communication – Able to read and interpret written information such as a daily “to do” list; records field notes and planting maps; keeps track of harvest notes and weights. • Professionalism - Reacts well under pressure; treats others with respect and consideration regardless of their status or position; communicates openly when conflict arises. • Motivation – Holds self to standard of excellence; self-starter. • Initiative – Volunteers readily; seeks increased responsibilities; asks for and offers help when needed. • Quality Control- Demonstrates accuracy and thoroughness; applies feedback to improve performance; monitors own work to ensure quality; maintains Shakefork Community Farm standards. For a full apprentice job description, please cut and paste this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rHFzldZ2n6HLkvU5XkbSgThYfOoSJaAn/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=117017496668620904701&rtpof=true&sd=true
Meals: We eat primarily from the foods that we grow on the farm and provide for almost all of our own meat, vegetable, dairy and fat needs. We encourage apprentices to truly embrace what it means to eat what’s in season, from the farm. Apprentices will participate in our communal lunch rotation, cooking for a group that often includes volunteers, employees and visitors. Apprentices prepare their own breakfasts and dinners. We purchase INGREDIENTS not grown on the farm at our local Co-op or from other local farmers. This includes things like coffee, tea, spices, olive oil, condiments, grains & legumes; flours, lemons, coconut milk, etc. Non-staples and processed foods must be purchased independently. Your enthusiasm for the kitchen arts and real food will serve you well here. The enjoyment of food is central to our vision of a sustainable farm life, so we make time to prepare good food, by hand, fresh from the farm. Apprentices are encouraged to use their cooking time to develop skills working with farm-based, nutrient-dense ingredients. We make kraut, pickles, bone broth, sausage, jerky, bacon, butter and ghee, among other things, for use on the farm. Farmers Melanie and Kevin are advocates of an ancestral diet and adhere to primarily gluten-free, low carb food choices. While we respect all food choices, we cannot accommodate vegetarians or vegans on our regenerative farm.
Stipend: From $800 monthly (new farmers & new to us farmers) up to $1200 monthly for experienced farm hands committed through the full season (end of December). Quarterly check-ins (evaluations) and raises offered based on attitude, contributions, skill development and commitment. Our application process includes the following: brief letter of introduction; completed application (request by email); current resume; at least one professional reference, preferably farm related (more welcome); follow up interview via Google Meet; review job description; a 3-day working interview. It's a time consuming process, and we appreciate serious applicants only. Thank you for engaging this process thoughtfully and professionally. Apprentices' first paychecks will be retained as a security deposit and returned in full in cash at the successful completion of the program.
Housing: Expect clean, simple, and rustic. Apprentices each have a 200 sq. ft. yome (a cross between a yurt and a dome – see redskyshelters.com or our website for details) to call home for the season. They are beautiful structures - like glamping - and fully furnished except bedding (you bring your own!). Solar power feeds one light and one outlet per yome. Each yome has a small wood stove, and apprentices are expected to participate in the work of preparing their own wood supply. An outdoor communal kitchen space is equipped with a sink, gas range, and fridge & freezer, as well as all the basic kitchen stuff – cast iron pots, stainless steel pans, baking pans, food processor, plates, bowls, knives, etc. We even have an ice cream maker! Other amenities include a composting toilet, outdoor shower house and shared laundry facilities (inside the farmers’ home). Cell phone reception can be spotty depending on your carrier, but we have a landline for daytime use. Wi-Fi is available. A personal vehicle is required. We are a strictly non-smoking farm and do not permit tobacco or cannabis use of any kind on the farm property. Apprentices' first paychecks will be retained as a security deposit and returned in full in cash at the successful completion of the program. Proof of health insurance is required.
Preferred method of Contact: Email