If you’re considering a career in farming, our apprenticeship and summer internship positions are a great way to gain hands-on experience and knowledge. We are also hiring a part-time packing shed manager (see below for details).
As we mentioned before, this will very likely be the most challenging physical and mental work you've ever done. With the right attitude, it will also be the most rewarding! If you're up to the challenge and want to really dive into the nitty gritty of responsible food production, read on!
Members of the farm crew learn the ins and outs of our farm- vegetable growing from seed to harvest, marketing, soil health, tools, and our broader vision for the land and what it means for our world. Farming is our form of activism. We believe that providing people with truly healthy, nutrient-dense food that is also healthy for the land--all within a viable business model-- is a powerful act.
About the farm:
A Way of Life Farm has the goal of fostering healthy people, healthy economy, and healthy ecology through food production. We grow Certified Organic and Real Organic Project Certified vegetables, strawberries, and blueberries, as well as pasture-raised pork for sale to farmers’ market and CSA customers. This commercial production is integral to a broader permaculture design and land revitalization, which includes the development of fruit and nut orchards (persimmon, pawpaw, muscadines, chestnuts, and pecans). A combination of sustainable practices including no-till raised beds, cover cropping, Kinsey-Albrecht method, keyline plowing, Holistic Management, and permaculture design are used throughout our land. About 95% of your time will be spent growing, harvesting, and marketing vegetables.
We start our own vegetable transplants from seed and propagate perennials in a permanent greenhouse. Forty types of vegetables and herbs are grown on about 2 acres. Most of our production is outdoors on permanent, no-till raised beds. We also have two large high tunnels that we use for year-round production. We have 4 wheel and 2 wheel tractors, but most of your work – bed preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting- is done with hand tools, which you will become intimately familiar with! Working with A Way of Life Farm offers an opportunity to see what it’s like to earn a livelihood from a farm. We are located an hour from Asheville and Charotte, NC and 15 minutes from the lovely town of Forest City.
Working and living on a highly productive farm business is also very challenging. You need to be healthy and strong, both physically and mentally, to succeed and benefit from this apprenticeship and all the farm has to offer.
Please read this awesome article about how to determine if an apprenticeship is right for you and how to make the of it when you're there. The author, Julia, was an apprentice here in 2012.
Please read on for specific details for the Apprenticeship. If you’re only able to work for 2-3 months in the summer, we’re opening two Summer Internship positions this year. Please see below for more information.
We take our role as educators seriously, offering information and skills that will lead to a greater understanding of farm management and systems, all in the context of the farm as a business. We explain tasks as they come up in the season and offer written information and informal “classes” periodically throughout the year, but most of the skills and information will be communicated within the context of farm work. You may periodically be given reading or listening assignments to specific podcasts in your free time so we can discuss these topics as a group. As the season progresses or as specific skills are developed , apprentices have increased independence, responsibilities, and specialization in their work around the farm. We teach thoughtful and efficient execution of farm tasks, which is essential to the success of any enterprise (the goal in production work is to get the job done right and get it done quickly).
Qualifications: We are looking for applicants who are engaged learners, take pride in their work, have good communication skills, and are self-motivated. Some previous experience on a commercial farm is highly recommended -- this may take the form of previous farm internships or even just a couple days volunteering on a commercial farm. Experience with physical labor or intense outdoor activity is important. Our bodies are our primary tools on the farm. You need to be both physically and mentally fit to enjoy the challenges of farm life and meet them with determination and levity. Hands-on learning is a given on a farm, but the ability to learn from listening is very valuable as a lot of information is conveyed verbally through instruction in the field or morning meetings. Over the years we've found that those who flourish the most on our farm tend to have or develop a strong interest in food and cooking (this gives a full appreciation for the work you're doing here!). Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate pets. Couples can apply, though our housing is only comfortable for a single person, so you can expect to be assigned separate, but adjacent houses.
Apprentices commit to the following:
· Full season commitment: October, February, or March--December 20(ending dates can extend into the next farming season, but this is a minimum commitment)
· No smoking, pets, illegal substances, or firearms- for various reasons these things are not supportive of the healthy community environment and successful farm we aim to maintain.
· Average 45 hours per week of work
We expect hard work during these hours and also respect your time and life away from the farm, trying our best to stick to a pre-arranged work schedule that equals 8 hours/day Monday-Friday (the start and end times can change, depending on the season, but a typical day begins at 7:45, with 45 minutes for lunch break, and ends at 4:30). Apprentices are off on Sundays. 2 out of every 4 Saturdays will be spent working, either at market or 5 hours on the farm, and the other two Saturdays are days off. Fridays are one of the busiest farm days and cannot be missed. Apprentices get scheduled half days off each month starting in May, and a long weekend off (Monday-Tuesday) in the summer which takes the place of the half day off that month. Scheduling time off will be based on the whole crew’s schedules. Sometimes the farm will demand longer days just to get to job done.
· ½ hour one-on-one monthly check-in meeting with Jamie or Sara Jane during lunch.
-Participation in most community and "extra curricular" learning activities, like regular "bring your own" crew lunches, plant ID/nature walk around farm property, potlucks, etc. These happen at mutually convenient days/times outside of work hours.
· Prepare healthy meals for yourself throughout the week
· Arrive promptly and ready to work at pre-arranged start times
· Work outdoors in rain, shine, heat, or cold
· Maintain a positive and curious attitude
· Bring appropriate clothing and supplies to stay comfortable and healthy on the farm (see list below).
· Respect farm housing, tools, and facilities
· Be responsible for general housekeeping of your living spaces, including shared outhouse, shower, and refrigerator (follow a simple weekly “chore wheel” for shared spaces). You are responsible for keeping any bug/critter infestations under control (ask us for guidance, we have experience!), mowing the areas around your house, and leaving your house in the same condition you found it. Your house will be looked over and cleared for check out at the end of the season after all issues are addressed.
· Respect the farm crew, volunteers, and customers of the farm
· COVID-19: We take this virus very seriously for the health and safety of our crew, our families, and our customers. We follow CDC guidelines on the farm and ask that all crew members follow them in their personal time as well, including wearing a mask in public places as instructed by NC law. We follow social distance guidelines when working outside, frequent and thorough hand-washing, and we require a mask when working in certain places on the farm such as the pack shed and basement storage.
Sara Jane and Jamie will provide the following:
· A broad range of information and skills related to farming, primarily communicated in the field. These skills include vegetable-raising from seed to harvest, methods of pest control, soil health and revitalization, perennial fruit raising, and a lot more. Apprentices will specialize in areas such as microgreens production, pastured pig management, seed starting, CSA packing, fertigatiion. The teachings communicated and practiced throughout the season go beyond technical skills to include broader life skills including mind-body connection, observation, and holistic thinking
-Facilitating "Lunch and Learns" throughout the season
· Answering or helping to research any farming related questions
· Experience marketing farm products and information on a farm as a business
· Access to an excellent library of farming related books
· Membership to CRAFT, a regional network of farmers and apprentices with monthly tours and activities (or virtual tours during pandemic)
· $700/month starting full-time stipend with merit-based raises possible (taxes will be withheld and a W-2 is given at the end of the year).
· Housing: a tiny home or camper (electricity, cold water, propane cooking appliances, shared outhouse, and a hot shower in a shared building are provided; there is no A/C in any of our housing).
· Vegetables from the farm and $150 pork credit (3 pack limit on bacon- this is a hot commodity!)
· Food staples (dry goods we order in bulk such as organic rice, beans, oats, flour, sugar)
· Up to 3 paid sick days off throughout the season if you or a family member is sick. This cannot be used as extra personal vacation days. You must contact Jamie or Sara Jane prior to the start of the day to be missed to let us know.
Can't commit to the full season, but want to get started on your farming adventure? Join us for 2-3 months this summer as an intern! You will get lots of experience in the field, tending and harvesting produce and living on the farm.
Compensation and expectations are similar to apprenticeships, but requires 40 hours/week and includes $500/month (W-2 and taxes will be applied), produce from the farm, and housing in a camper-trailer with your own kitchen, basic appliances, cold running water, and a shared outhouse and hot shower space.
PART-TIME PACKING SHED MANAGER
Manage packing of quality, organic produce for pre-order customers. This is an hourly position for 10 hours/week with roughly 5 hours on Tuesday and 5 hours on Friday (possibility of expanded hours and responsibilities for the right fit) and runs a minimum of April-December. Candidates should be organized, detail-oriented, and have experience in a fast-paced work environment (work experience in a busy restaurant kitchen would be very applicable). Please apply with a resume and 2 work references. Must have reliable transportation
"I learned a lot about organic no-till agriculture over the course of two seasons working at A Way of Life Farm. Sara Jane and Jamie have a vast knowledge of all things farming and are very intentional in their practices. Gaining hands on experience in regenerative farming at A Way of Life set me on a path with purpose. Although my apprenticeship is over, Sara Jane and Jamie continue to be my mentors and friends. If you are interested in learning how to be a profitable and holistic farmer, I would highly recommend applying."
-Karl, 2018-2019 apprentice
"Apprenticing at A Way of Life was a formative experience of incredible physical and intellectual simulation and empowerment. Jamie and Sara Jane openly shared their knowledge and answered questions related to the whys and hows of both the granular and the big picture. With their guidance, the crew delved hands-on into details from biological amendments to bolster plant immune systems to holistic management and goal-driven decision-making. Alongside honing efficiencies, we explored how to complete tasks in an ergonomic way to minimize strain on the physical body. I also enjoyed being involved in numerous aspects of the farm while specializing in greenhouse management and microgreens production. Perhaps most powerful was gaining feet-on-the soil comprehension of what it takes to operate a regenerative, commercial farm to economically support a family and business expansion in a way that can maintain a sustainable quality of life. The experience gave me the technical knowledge, skills, and confidence to successfully manage and grow a non-profit educational farm. As I begin the journey of starting a commercial farm of my own with organic and permaculture inspiration, I proudly carry AWOLF tools with me."
-Bari, 2017 apprentice
"I had a truly transformative experience working with Jamie and Sara Jane at A Way of Life Farm...I genuinely feel like I couldn't have gone through this experience with better mentors. Jaime and Sara Jane are both incredibly knowledgeable and patient teachers...It is incredible to think back on my first days on the farm and the transformation that has occurred. I have learned so many of the technical skills and basic knowledge to help jump start my farming career, but even more importantly I have a greater sense of drive to achieve my goals after experiencing what life as an organic farmer is really like."
-Cecilia, 2016 apprentice
"My apprenticeship with A Way of Life prepared me to go from very little formal farming experience, to the job I have now: running a farm with a 180-member sliding-scale CSA... A Way of Life farmers, Sara Jane and Jamie Davis, dedicate themselves to educating their apprentices. I've never seen a farm achieve such a balance between maintaining financial stability while also continuing to deepen ecological practices. My apprenticeship gave me both the hard skills and the inspiration to farm in a way that is both idealistic and realistic.
-Julia, 2012 apprentice
Want to apply? Please fill out a completed application (below) along with a resume and two work references. We look forward to hearing from you!