Looking for a farming apprenticeship in Ontario? Check out Blue Wheelbarrow Farm in Prince Edward County, ON! If you find dirt under your fingernails soothing and the physical exhaustion of a day’s work in the field strangely satisfying… read on!
About Blue Wheelbarrow Farm
Blue Wheelbarrow Farm is excited to be starting its fifth season in beautiful Prince Edward County, Ontario. Located just outside Bloomfield in the heart of “The County”, we are dedicated to producing fresh, organically grown vegetables of the highest quality and taste, with a strong focus on promoting local agriculture and local food autonomy. The farm is a 17 acre property with 3 acres cultivated for vegetable growing. We specialize in baby greens and salad mixes (over 5,600 lbs sold in 2019) but grow a variety of other vegetables such as tomatoes, radishes, carrots, and zucchini. We sell our produce to over 25 different chefs in the County, at local farmers’ markets, and at our farm stand on site. Cultivating community, celebrating the harvest, and feeding people fully is the foundation of the farm and business.
Blue Wheelbarrow Farm is owned and operated by Aaron Armstrong, who has been working in the field (literally) of organic vegetable farming since 2010. Born and raised north of Toronto in Simcoe County, Aaron spent 6 years learning about many different types of organic farming (working, interning, and wwoofing throughout Canada, Hawai’i, and Europe) before bringing his favourite methods together to create his own farm in the spring of 2016. His Great Pyrenees dog, Misty, can be found hanging around the farm as well.
Dirt under the fingernails aside, we are looking for people who have a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a dedication towards furthering their education/skills in organic farming. This is hard work so past organic vegetable farming experience is ideal, but those without previous experience will be most welcomed, with preference to those who have prior outdoor work experience. And if you have a desire to explore a career in farming then all the better.
Now here’s the part where we list the standard, yet essential, “requirements, skills, and abilities” most farms are looking for in an intern:
- Good communication skills
- Fast hands
- Ability to work equally well with a team or independently
- Ability to listen and follow directions
- Has the initiative and self-motivated to complete tasks
- Has the courage and confidence to ask questions when tasks are unclear or end result is uncertain
- Ability to give and receive feedback
- Can work quickly and efficiently with good time management
- Flexible, accepting, and willing to adapt to new skills and methods as farming is made up of thousands of tricks and details
- Arriving punctual and prepared to work and displaying good self-care and a positive attitude
We are looking for people who thrive working outside, growing food, and working with their hands. Here you will experience the romanticism and realities of what it takes to run a farming business. Organic farming, while incredibly rewarding, can be very hard and challenging work: long hours, repetitive tasks, prolonged time spent on your knees or in a crouching position, working in all weather conditions, starting harvest before sunrise to beat the heat of the day, time spent working alone, and long hours of physical exertion to name a few. Harvest days are fast paced and we go until the work is done. As a result, this type of work requires a healthy amount of physical endurance and fitness, as well as managing your own personal health and emotional self-care.
Are you still with us? Phew, good! Because despite the challenges of farming, we value a healthy work/life balance and a sense of humour; good food, good wine, good company, euchre, cribbage, Wizard, movie nights, beach days, bonfires, ice cream… all important parts of farm life. As you will be living on the farm, someone who is respectful of communal living spaces and can contribute to the upkeep, cleanliness, and maintenance of our home is important. Blue Wheelbarrow Farm is a busy place, so your ability to collaborate and work with others is essential.
First and foremost, Blue Wheelbarrow Farm wants your internship experience to be one rich in education and community. We are happy and willing to teach and share our knowledge with you. There is no such thing as a stupid question and we will explain any techniques, processes, and instructions until things are clear. Our goal is for you to gain a broad understanding of the entire experience of small-scale organic veggie farming and to be immersed in the vibrant community that is Prince Edward County.
Interns will be involved in every aspect of life on the farm and will be an integral part of the Blue Wheelbarrow team. This is hard work but – for us – very rewarding. The majority of our work is done by hand with little mechanization. Duties will include:
- Harvesting (picking, washing, sorting, processing, packaging, quality control)
- Weed control (hoeing, hand pulling) and maintenance of cultivated acreage
- Seeding and germination care
- Direct seeding with our Jang seeder, transplanting with our paper pot transplanter, or transplanting by hand
- Watering and irrigation
- Trellising & pruning
- Bed prep with the BCS rototiller, raking, fertilizing
Once confident, interns are expected to be able to complete jobs independently without constant supervision. There may be construction projects on the go if interns would like to expand or offer their skills in this department.
FULL-TIME POSITION DURATION: Apr 20 to Oct 30, 2019
SHORT-TERM POSITIONS DURATION: 3 two-month positions (May, June, or August start date) and 2 three-month positions (May 1 – July 31, July 23 – Oct 30)
Weekly hours: Interns will work roughly 50 hours per week at peak season (May to September) and 30-40 hours per week during early spring/late autumn. Our work days at peak season run from 7am to 5pm, with a coffee break at 10am and an hour lunch break starting around 12:30-1. We encourage you adopt the time-honoured European tradition of a siesta during the latter half of lunch break. Certain tasks (like transplanting) are expected to be followed through to their completion, even if this goes later than the scheduled work day. Some things just gotta git done! We are usually harvesting something every day, but on our big harvest/delivery days (Tuesdays & Fridays) we go until the harvest, processing, packing, and clean up have been completed. Farm work will be done in all types of weather. After work, especially hot days, we might somehow find ourselves down at the beach for a re-energizing swim.
Stipend and Accommodation:
FULL-TIME POSITION: Previous experience and a serious interest in organic vegetable farming are important. The internship includes all your food, a furnished room in our 1870s farm house, internet, laundry, and a stipend of $600 per month. A valid Class 5 (G) driver’s license is necessary, as the full-time position will have the responsibility of running farm errands on certain days. Your own vehicle is recommended as there is no public transit in the County and the area is best accessed by driving.
SHORT-TERM POSITIONS: This internship is ideal for someone who has an interest in organic vegetable farming but is unable to commit to a full season. Previous experience is not essential, though a serious interest in organic vegetable farming is. The short-term internships include all your food, a furnished room in our 1870s farm house, internet, and a stipend of $450 per month. Your own means of transportation is recommended as The County is a beautiful place to explore. If you don’t have a car, we do have bicycles available to use.
First and foremost, Blue Wheelbarrow Farm wants your internship experience to be one rich in education and community. Aaron’s “gateway drug” into organic farming began when he started volunteering on farms through the WWOOF program. As a result, he gained valuable insight and knowledge that was directly connected to the pivotal and practical aspects of farming rather than learning about it from a classroom setting. We are happy and willing to teach and share our knowledge with you. There is no such thing as a stupid question and we will explain any techniques, processes, and instructions until things are clear. Our goal is for you to gain a broad understanding of the entire experience of organic veggie farming and to be immersed in the vibrant community that is Prince Edward County.
Please send a cover letter and resume with references by email to Aaron Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selected candidates will be contacted to schedule either an in person or video conferencing interview. Thank you to all who show interest in the positions.
Learn More About Blue Wheelbarrow Farm