Fresh Valley Farms is located on two quarter sections along Mountain View Rd, just outside of Armstrong BC. The farm is made up of 90 acres of arable field and animal pasture and just over 200 acres of wooded hillside. It is a beautiful location with a view over this part of the North Okanagan valley. Just 3 km from the town of Armstrong, it is an easy bike ride into town where you’ll find art and music, a great farmers’ market, an active community theatre group and good coffee and lunch.
15 minutes away from the farm is Vernon, with a full recreation centre, performing arts centre and a bourgeoning good, local food scene.
Family owned and operated for 90 years, with three generations currently working on the farm (and a fourth on the way – due August 7th), Fresh Valley Farms raises natural animals, fed primarily from crops grown organically right on the farm. With a commitment to ethical and sustainably sourced inputs, and a dedication to our community and the local food economy, we produce quality meat that our customers can feel good about buying and eating. While we are not certified organic, there are no chemicals or pesticides used on the farm and the quality of life of our animals is foremost in our minds and in our farming practices.
We currently have 12 breeding sows and 50 – 100 hogs at any one time and there are always cute piglets making new appearances. The pigs are heritage varieties (Berkshire, Tamworth and Mulefoot) raised on pasture with ample room for play and socializing. We are part owners of an abattoir, located on the farm, so we are able to grow pasture raised poultry and ensure quality and ethical handling from start to finish. Throughout a summer season, we will process approximately 2,000 of our own meat birds, as well as doing custom orders for other local small scale producers.
Alongside all of the animal husbandry on the farm, there is also a sizable vegetable garden kept with the goal of producing much of the food consumed on the farm, with an excess for sale or trade. There are always opportunities to create in and among the existing projects, which vary from carpentry and hands-on work with animals, cleaning, gardening, some machinery work, and general farm maintenance.
Most of our meat is sold through a monthly Community Supported Agriculture box (approximately 90 subscribers), as well as through custom orders, farmers’ markets and at the farm gate. There are also a limited number of retail locations that carry our products to keep things within a scale that is manageable and sustainable for us.
Our main products are pasture raised pork and poultry and grass fed and grass finished beef. Various garden vegetables will be grown primarily for house use, but also for sale. We have our own feed mill where we mill and mix all animal feeds used on the farm. The fields are used for growing hay, grain (barley and wheat), and peas.
To clean up around the feed mill we also have free range layer hens. This year, we plan to start a larger flock of laying hens, hatched on the farm this spring.
What You’ll Learn at Fresh Valley Farms
On this farm, with its broad spectrum of products, an intern will have the opportunity to learn everything from good animal husbandry, pasture management and rotations to gardening, food preservation and marketing. Expect to increase your knowledge of basic construction principles through working on animal shelters and larger projects including a barn in the 2016 season. Marketing is also an important part of our business, as we recognize the essential part that presentation plays in connecting a consumer with a product. We value our relationships with our committed customers, so we try to be consistent in everything that we do, whether it’s in our attendance at a farmers’ market, or in the packaging and labelling of our products for sale. Animal husbandry skills would range from occasionally assisting sows farrow, to weaning and piglet care. We also have an on-farm feed mill so an apprentice would be able to learn feed mixes and various aspects of animal nutrition.
An intern on this farm will be expected to work 6 – 8 hours per day (depending on the season) and needs to feel comfortable working with animals, including large animals (all of ours are very friendly) from May 1 to October 31. Work would be expected 5 days per week, with days off varying depending on what is happening (for instance, we almost always take Sundays off, but some Saturdays include CSA pick-up, so then work might be required). Anyone planning a season at Fresh Valley Farms needs to be able to carry full 5-gallon buckets (~40 lbs) and also maintain good posture on work that requires bending, such as weeding, harvesting, or helping to move the pasture-raised poultry (both the infrastructure and birds themselves). An intern would assist with:
- the CSA program
- daily farm chores
- tending to pigs, chickens and cows
- fencing and infrastructure projects
- tractor work (depending on past experience and demonstrated ability)
- planting, weeding, veggie harvesting, and food preservation.
Room and Board
We have a large house with five bedrooms on the farm. An apprentice, or couple, would be offered a bedroom in the house. There are two shared bathrooms, so the apprentice/couple would likely be sharing it with at least two other people (we currently have two longer term employees on the farm who will be here until fall 2016). Because we work early mornings, everyone is often in bed and the house is quiet by 9:30pm, so we would ask that you respect this lifestyle. There is also a baby due on the farm in early August, so an intern needs to feel comfortable sharing living space with a young family, which means respecting nap times and being sure to clean up after themselves.
All food is shared, with breakfast and lunch being largely independent meals and supper being cooked on a loosely rotational basis. We eat all GMO-free and an almost all organic diet. We eat very well, including high quality on-farm produced meat 5 – 7 meals per week.
Everyone is expected to help in the cooking, and if you didn’t cook then you’ll be one of the helpers cleaning up the kitchen. We do have a dishwasher, so clean-up usually doesn’t take long. We are generous in the quantity and quality of food on offer, so we ask that people working and staying here don’t take advantage of what’s available.
In addition to room and board, we would discuss a monthly stipend with an intern based on their past experience and ability. There would also be the possibility of doing paid work for the abattoir, or potentially doing some other paid responsibilities, in addition to regular work hours.
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