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Apprenticeship--Multi-species, Regenerative Grazing Farm

Weathertop Farm

Check, Virginia

Job Type Seasonal / temporary

Weathertop is looking for folks interested in and passionate about preserving sustainable agriculture systems within our local food-shed communities.

Weathertop Farm invites 4 to 6 farm-hand-apprentices each year for the duration of our season, preferably beginning in March, with some starting later, and staying through mid-December. We give preference to those who commit to the full season, but depending on needs, we may consider other arrangements.

About the Farm:

We are a small family-owned and operated farm. We are dedicated to holistic regenerative agriculture through multi-species rotational grazing and intensive management. No antibiotics or hormones are used, and all livestock eat from pasture that is free of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. Any supplemental feed we use is non-GMO and locally sourced. Our diverse business includes raising and selling pastured chickens, eggs, pigs, lamb, turkeys, and cattle. In contrast to homestead or other non-profit operations, we are a for-profit business, therefore all facets of our farm must work together to enhance the whole business. We do the bulk of our sales direct-to-consumer here at the farm, another large portion through farmers markets, and a limited amount of wholesale to local food stores. 

Weathertop Farm is located on about 200 acres in Floyd County, VA a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and about a 30 to 40 minute drive from Roanoke, Christiansburg, or Blacksburg. 

Our farm team is composed of owner-farmers, Sarah and Cedric, along with 4 to 6 employees in apprentice and manager positions, as needs dictate. Additionally, our farm encompasses a diverse multi-generational community of family, friends, neighbors and visitors, from grandparents to young children, all of whom participate with the farm at various times and in varying degrees.

We care a great deal about our farm community. We value diversity and equality and welcome anyone who is kind and conscientious to apply to join our team.

About the Apprenticeship:

Apprentices must be ready to work hard doing manual labor in all kinds of weather. We expect apprentices to put in 40-50 hours a week on average, depending on farm schedule and season; summer is our busiest time. Depending upon the day or task, apprentices can expect to answer to and work alongside farmers Cedric and Sarah for some tasks and independently or in teams for others.   

Each apprentice will rotate through all areas of the farm. Work will include but is not limited to:  

  • Daily care of animals (work closely with livestock: hens, broilers, turkeys, hogs, cattle, sheep) 
  • Collecting & cleaning eggs 
  • Handling feed in 50-lb sacks on a daily basis  
  • Operating tractor and mower 
  • Daily portable-electric-fence moving 
  • Frequent set-up/moving of portable housing, hoses, fences, etc., for all animal groups  
  • Daily pasture-pen moving for broilers (some by hand, some by tractor) 
  • Participating in daily farm-team meeting
  • Plotting animal movement on the grazing chart 
  • On-farm poultry processing (averaging once/week June-Nov); participation mandatory 
  • Assisting set-up of trailers for catching/sorting animals 
  • Occasional building & maintenance projects 
  • Deliveries to local businesses 
  • Occasional involvement in farmers markets (Sat & Wed)
  • Handle on-farm sales 
  • Keeping each work area clean and organized
  • Miscellaneous tasks may involve, but are not limited to: composting, mowing, cleaning out bedding from brooder & hoop-houses, firewood prep, driving to mill for feed pick-up and unloading, etc.

What we require of an apprentice: 

  • Ability to do manual labor (e.g. lifting a lot of 50 lb feed sacks)  
  • Enthusiasm, flexibility, & tenacity 
  • Ability & willingness to follow directions & ask questions 
  • Cooperation in working with others 
  • Individual initiative 
  • Patience both with yourself & others 
  • Comfortable around animals 
  • Good physical health & fitness 
  • Perseverance in adverse weather (heat/cold/rain/snow/etc.) 
  • Willingness to work on some weekends and holidays
  • Commitment to the entire season
  • Must be 18 years old by start of apprenticeship
  • Must be authorized to work for any employer in the U.S. We are unable to sponsor VISAs.
  • No firearms and no illegal drugs.  
  • No smoking or vaping within farm buildings or living facilities or during work hours. 
  • Not distracted by personal technology (cell phone, etc.) during workday 

 Not required, but a plus: 

  • Previous farming experience  
  • Basic carpentry or mechanical skills 
  • Comfortable driving (or learning to drive) tractors, manual-gear truck, large delivery van 
  • Comfortable or experienced in a sales setting and interacting with customers 
  • Having your own vehicle (no public transporation available)

Educational Opportunities: 

You can expect to learn about the nitty-gritty details of raising animals first-hand--what the daily work is like on a farm as well as the bigger picture of how we plan for the year and how to integrate multiple species in a pasture-based system. We will spend a lot of time in conversation about farming and related issues. You will have ample opportunity to ask whatever questions you have.

Through this experience you can gain an understanding of the daily ups and downs and ins and outs of a farming season. Because of the diverse range of tasks we require help with--from raising animals to butchering to marketing and sales--you will gain an understanding of how the diverse multi-species grazing operation of our farm is integrated into one business, functioning as a whole. 

Group farm classes:  We aim to hold a class about once every week or every two weeks, depending on the season. Classes start with lunch, and discussions are prefaced by a variety of short readings or videos to spur conversation. We focus on a wide range of topics related to farming and symbiotic issues. Classes alternate between practical how-to classes and more theoretical discussions, in which Farmer Cedric delves into his passion which combines philosophy and farming. When possible, we do our best to cater class offerings to individual preference and interest. 

Additional Learning Opportunities:

  • Access to our farm library, including some recommended readings and podcasts 
  • Visit with other farms and alternative food systems in Floyd 
  • Occasional workshops, lectures, films, conferences offered in the Floyd area 
  • Local Conference, when possible 

Compensation:

  • Stipend: $1,000/month. An additional bonus in December upon completing *the season. *At farmer’s discretion, depending on farm needs and whether an apprentice is a good fit, there may be potential for staying on for winter season.
  • Housing: Shared housing. All housing options come with individual bedrooms, full kitchen & bath (including composting toilet), washer/dryer, heating, WiFi. All utilities included.
  • Food: Considerable Meat/Poultry/Egg share.

For full details of the Apprenticeship and to read about Weathertop Farm, please visit: weathertopfarm.com

HOW TO APPLY
  • Read all information on Apprentice Page of our website.
  • Complete the Apprentice Application (also available on Apprentice Page).You can expect to hear from us within two weeks of receiving your completed application. 
  • If your application is selected for consideration, we will invite you for an initial online interview.
  • If your application is selected for further consideration, please keep in mind that we will require an on-farm visit as proximity allows. Since an apprenticeship at Weathertop Farm involves working, living, and socializing in close proximity, we feel it is important that we meet face-to-face so all of us can get a sense of people and place.

Please contact us at info@weathertopfarm.com with any questions.

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Farm and Ranch Jobs.
Moving hens to fresh pasture at Weathertop Farm.. Uploaded by Weathertop Farm
Moving hens to fresh pasture at Weathertop Farm.. Uploaded by Weathertop Farm