Contact informationFarm Address:
11885 5800 RD
Montrose, Colorado, 81403
Primary Contact: Jenn Mueller
Internship informationGeneral Farm Description: Yurtstead Farm is looking for a couple seasonal heroes for the 2022 season. I run an all-season, off-grid, woman-owned operation balancing vegetable, meat, egg, and flower production on 10 acres on the western slope of Colorado. I follow the guidelines specified for organic production, but am not certified, and am integrating regenerative farming practices including minimal tillage (once every 7 years). I grow all the vegetables (except stalk celery, because, yuck); raise weaner piglets, heritage turkeys, and broiler chickens; maintain a flock of about three dozen egg layers; and, through the main summer season, provide fresh-cut, poison-free flowers. Our products are sold mainly at the Ridgway, Crested Butte, and Montrose Farmers’ markets; a winter CSA; and occasionally wholesale clients including middle-marketers, local retail stores, and chefs. Above all, I am obsessed with tilth, environmental conservation, and healthy growing environments for folks, critters and plants. Working with our regional markets helps to keep healthy, local food production alive in the central Rockies, avoids the fuelishness of shipping food from distant growers to local eaters, and keeps accountability for high quality safe product at the forefront of our operation. On June 24th, 2021, the farm suffered a 100-year-flood. A three-foot wall of water blasted across the farm, drowning 450 head of poultry, scattering full-grown hogs like dice, and burying the entire farm in between 2 and 24 inches of sand. We have made significant in-roads into flood rehabilitation, but it’s a whole new farm for me, too, so this year will have special emphasis on soil building strategies. Much of that will be accomplished before workers start for the year, but there will still be plenty to do, and the excitement of coaxing our new(!) soil to show us what it can do. In general, the flood deposits are a good thing, our previous soils were somewhat heavy, and much of the new sediments are sand, which is just what we needed. The source for this sediment is nearby mesa tops where the heavy rains had nowhere to go but down, but they are devoid of industrial pollution, as might be the case with a river flood out East. The farm was only inundated briefly (3 hours) so the soil microbiome wasn’t completely destroyed – we managed to salvage some crops and replanted short rotation crops and they performed well. It’s going to be an exciting year, soil development is my passion, and this is the perfect opportunity to put ideas that I’ve had since I initially started into practice. I am giving broilers a rest this season, so that I have time to reseed and nurture the pastures.
CRAFT Member Farm? No
Internship Starts: April 1st. ish (2 positions) early May (1 position)
Internship Ends: Mid-October - early November, dependant on frost and season flow
Number of Internship Available: 2
Application Deadline: Open until positions are filled
Minimum Length of Stay: I require a full-season committment
The Yurtstead farm is searching for two-three full-time, paid ($12/hr) seasonal heroes for the main market season (Early April to early May start through at least the middle of October, and more likely early November). You will have two consecutive days off in a row each week, and if you let me know well in advance and work around our main harvest days, a handful of extra vacation days can be taken during the year. The vegetable portion of my operation is probably 95% of your expected workload, although routine daily animal care for laying chickens, turkeys, and hogs are expected to be part of someone’s workload. My goal is to share my farming knowledge and tactics in exchange for a self-starting worker with a strong work ethic who can accomplish vegetable farming with all the joys that that entails: routine, often tedious, sometimes heavy, repetitious tasks in all the weather. Montrose is a very dry environment, and while we have rarely endured temperatures above 100, things can be in the upper 90s with very low humidity for several weeks. Generally, all aspects of bed prep, seeding, cultivation, pruning, thinning, harvesting, washing, and packing will be skills that you acquire. If you’re a social duck, assisting with one of the markets might also be on your docket.
For an interested individual, assisting with flower harvest can be a component of your weekly workload. Flowers constitute about 10% of our business, but the harvest time is disproportionate for its earning potential.
I butcher broiler chickens and turkeys on site, and if we as a team decide that raising turkeys this year for meat sale is something that we’re committed to, then butchery skills will be taught, but this is in no way mandatory. Ethical, friendly care for animals to be harvested for meat is an expected duty, so if that will trouble you, it likely isn’t a good fit. Animal harvesting is, regardless, an infrequent event.
Pre-Covid, I hosted a couple of small events with other farmers during the year, and I generally take time to introduce our seasonal heroes to folks of similar ilk at other farms, so you can compare experiences and network. The flood year was an anomaly, and I’m hopeful if the virus settles down, we might get back to socializing with others again. I wildcraft things for the farm (wild-mushroom gathering, collecting and processing medicinal plants, for example) and if outings of these sort are your jam, you could probably talk me into including you.
On-site housing is included (a small, furnished, off-grid cabin). It has a stand-alone 12-volt solar system, wifi, and a separate heating system. We have a shared bathroom in the “barn” including a clothes washer, and evening meals are shared “family dinners”, we take turns preparing meals for one another and helping with clean up. Food for all workdays is provided; most meals are consumed in my house (the yurt), although if an individual wanted to cook meals alone, we could establish an outdoor kitchen (an outdoor kitchen worked for me the first year, maybe it will for you too). Tobacco smoking is not permitted on the farm property (my mom died, emaciated from lung cancer, and I’m really firm on this).
A resume that details your previous farming or agricultural experience or indicates your willingness to work hard, outdoors or a reasonable explanation for why you are seeking farm work with no experience
A letter of introduction that highlights your skills. You might consider addressing some of the following questions: Why you think you would be a good fit for farming, and specifically, my farm? What specific skills and experiences are you hoping to acquire? Which aspects of my operation are most interesting to you? What skills do you bring that you think I’d be excited to add to our team?
Please provide telephone and emails for three references, one of which must be a former employer or supervisor. Briefly indicate how you know your references. Having one individual who can address your work ethic will help your cause. I’ll call and talk to you before calling your references. If you have the opportunity to visit the farm for a test play, housing and real good farm grub will be provided. If you’d like, you can talk with one of last year’s seasonal heroes so you can check my references, too.
Educational Opportunities: I'll gladly share everything I know, and proudly hypothesize about things I don't (and openly indicate when that's what I'm doing).
Skills Desired: Previous farm experience is preferred, but strong evidence that you can thrive outdoors under mixed conditions doing work will suffice for the right applicant.
Meals: Food for all workdays is provided; most meals are consumed in my house (the yurt), although if an individual wanted to cook meals alone, we could establish an outdoor kitchen (an outdoor kitchen worked for me the first year, maybe it will for you too). Tobacco smoking is not permitted on the farm property (my mom died, emaciated from lung cancer, and I’m really firm on this).
Stipend: Yes, equivalent to $12/hr
Housing: On-site housing is included (a small, furnished, off-grid cabin). It has a stand-alone 12-volt solar system, wifi, and a separate heating system. We have a shared bathroom in the “barn” including a clothes washer, and evening meals are shared “family dinners”, we take turns preparing meals for one another and helping with clean up.
Preferred method of Contact: email or text