Apprentice Program

Now Accepting Applications

From its earliest years, Darthia Farm has participated in the MOFGA apprentice program. The farm has provided dozens of young people the opportunity to join an operating organic farm, be part of a fun team and learn the techniques of organic farming.  We now participate in the WWOOF program and accept WWOOFers year round as long as we have a room available.

We currently have openings for apprentices for the 2018 season. Please read the information below before applying.

The Farm

Our farm has 153 acres of woods, pasture, and gardens, located on West Bay in Gouldsboro, a small fishing village. The main house is a large 9 room Victorian farmhouse set back 1000’ from the road. We have a chicken coop, large stone smokehouse, 2 barns, farm workshop, greenhouse, 2 hoop houses, farm store, and various outbuildings, a commercial processing kitchen and apprentice bathroom, 2 apprentice living quarters, and our farm manager’s house. After a devastating fire in 2012, the kindness of people all over the country allowed us to rebuild a beautiful post and beam barn. The nearest town of any size is Ellsworth (22 miles away) and we are within one hour of Bangor and Bar Harbor. We are within biking distance of a library, a pub/restaurant, and beautiful Schoodic Point.

Operations

We raise all our own vegetables, meat, eggs, herbs, and some fruit.  The Farm Store is our main sales venue.   We also have a small CSA, sell at one local Farmers’ Market, and sell to one local restaurant.  We currently have a few head of beef cattle, a small meat/wool sheep flock, three Haflinger horses, laying hens, barn cat, and a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever. Lambing takes place in the spring, as does Shearing.  We process all of our wool into yarn throughout the rest of the year.  Meat chickens, pigs, and turkeys are raised in the summer.  Income comes from sale of vegetables, preserves, yarn, beef, chicken, turkeys, and a mail order preserves and wreath business in the fall. Jams, pesto, salsa, etc. are made here and sold from our farm store. The horses prep gardens, dig potatoes, rake hay, haul logs, spread manure, and pull a wagon. We mill our own boards for various building projects.

Organic Farming

We have been certified Organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners for almost 40 years for vegetables, small fruits, flowers, woodlot. Our livestock do receive some commercially raised grain but are mostly fed on pasture or farm raised foods. Our meat is not certified. Our preserves are all made with certified organic ingredients but are not certified organic.

Apprentice Duties

In spring there is greenhouse work, planting, wood splitting, pasture work, animal care, lambing. In the summer, apprentices share work in the farm store, farmers’ market, CSA, harvesting, manage intensive grazing, haymaking, compost making, garden maintenance, processing value added products in the commercial kitchen. The fall brings slaughtering, harvesting, canning, wool work, mail order work, and manure spreading. Apprentices learn to trim sheep feet, administer shots, and manage pasture rotation. We all take part in processing the fleeces into wool which is ready to be spun into yarn.  If interested, an apprentice may learn to dye fleece, spin, and knit. In September we go to the Common Ground Country Fair with the horses and for a spinning demonstration - a wonderful experience.  There are always small carpentry projects.

Expectations

Apprentices must be able to work physically full days and lift 50 pounds. It is important to feel comfortable interacting with the public as the farm store and farmer's market are an important part of our summer business. Everyone pitches in to keep the animals fed 7 days a week. From June through September, we generally start morning chores at 5:30am, break for breakfast, meet up at 8am and work till we break for lunch, then we meet up again at 2pm and work until afternoon chores at 4pm. Apprentices usually work 5 1/2 days per week but are expected to participate in regular animal chores on weekends and sometimes, especially during haying, work may need to be done after hours or on weekends. We encourage apprentices to follow directions well, work alone at times, assume responsibility, be self-motivated, and ask questions if there are any doubts.  We depend on apprentices when they make a decision to be here and expect them to honor any commitment that we’ve made with them.

Training & Feedback

The apprentices will meet with Shepsi to discuss the day’s projects. We try to include apprentices in decision-making. Shepsi will hold a weekly meeting for out of field discussion. Independent projects are encouraged and arranged. Bill, Cynthia, and Liz will work with apprentices in the areas of haying, spinning and dyeing wool, fence work, animal husbandry, etc. We encourage apprentices to attend MOFGA workshops whenever possible. We try to have a community dinner once a week. We have an extensive library and encourage suggestions.

Compensation

This is essentially an exchange of labor for room, board (farm-raised food including vegetables, meats, fruit, etc. – we have eight freezers and a root cellar), and a good learning experience. We pay a monthly stipend of $300.00, which allows apprentices to purchase items not raised on the farm. Ideally we prefer a commitment from mid March through mid December. The minimum commitment would be through August

Housing

Apprentices live either in a rustic two-bedroom house with a kitchen or an A-frame cabin on the property. The kitchen has a sink with a foot pump water system which drains to the outside. We have an apprentice bathroom nearby with toilet, shower, sink, and washing machine as well as a certified processing kitchen. All the apprentice houses and the farmhouse are heated with wood. We share some meals together but the separate quarters allow us all some privacy. Apprentices are expected to share cleaning of their living areas and bathroom. We provide some bulk staples like flour, oil, rice, beans. Apprentices are expected to buy other items like butter, coffee, laundry soap, etc. No smoking or pets, please. Wireless internet is available.  15 ex-apprentices have settled in the area and socialize together.  Friends and family are welcome to visit.