Thursday, May 29, 2014

Program Assistanct Position and the California Farm Academy

Program Assistant, California Farm Academy

Application Deadline: June 13, 2014, or until filled

Start Date: as soon as possible

The Center for Land-Based Learning is dedicated to creating the next generation of farmers and teaching California’s youth about the importance of agriculture and natural resource conservation. The California Farm Academy is an innovative training program and farm business incubator on 5 acres at the Center for Land-Based Learning. The Farm Academy teaches and mentors adult beginning farmers in agricultural production, business planning and marketing of specialty crops, poultry and livestock.

Background: The California Farm Academy consists of a seven-month training program that meets part-time in the early evenings and on weekends, followed by a farm business incubator component. In the farm business incubator, qualified graduates of the training program are eligible to lease plots of land at less than typical market rates for up to three years. The Farm Academy also provides opportunities for participants to network with established farmers in the region, gain the experience needed to become an independent farm operator or farm manager, and to find appropriate farmland on which to continue their farm business enterprises.

Students engage in over 250 hours of classes, hands-on field experience and farm visits in order to learn how to run their agricultural businesses and pursue a career in today’s complicated and exciting farming and food system. Since 2012, 61 students have participated in the training program and nine of them have leased land in the farm business incubator to grow and market specialty crops.

The Center for Land-Based Learning is hiring a part-time Program Assistant to work with the California Farm Academy at its 5265 Putah Creek Road, Winters, CA headquarters. This position will be responsible for assisting the Program Director and Farm Program Manager in implementing the field work portions of the training and farm incubator programs. The Assistant will engage in a combination of on-site beginning farmer technical assistance and farm field work. This is a position that works primarily outdoors, with a desk available in the barn, as well as access to a regular office, with shared computer, printer, phone, etc., as needed.

The Program Assistant will help the training and incubator farm participants as they carry out the daily
operations of a year-round diversified vegetable farm, including answering questions, showing techniques and problem-solving issues involving planting, cultivation, soils, pest and disease management, harvest and post-harvest handling, and possibly marketing and distribution. It will be the Assistant’s job to coordinate infrastructure and equipment use and sharing by the beginning farmers and to oversee compliance with the. The Assistant will keep the farm spaces used by the program, including the barns, greenhouse, and wash area, clean, organized, and in working order. This may involve basic carpentry work. The Assistant will be expected to use and maintain drip irrigation, farm tools and equipment, including a walk-behind rototiller, ATV, a John Deere 900 HD tractor and various implements. Field work will consist primarily of assisting the Farm Program Manager and students in irrigating and harvesting one acre of mixed vegetables.

The Program Assistant must be able to interact effectively with the Program Director, Farm Program Manager, the beginning farmers utilizing the site, and the other staff and groups which regularly use the property and buildings. The Assistant should be organized, work well as part of a team and independently, and have a demonstrated dedication to engaging in sustainable agriculture.

• Experience in all aspects of farm production for small to moderate-sized diversified vegetable operations.

• Experience operating and maintaining vehicles, tractors, and a walk-behind rototiller.

• Knowledge of Sacramento Valley agriculture and production systems.

• Experience in basic carpentry and irrigation system set-up and repair.

• Ability to lift 50 pounds and work outside in the elements, such as heat, wind and rain.

• Previous experience running a farm as a farm manager or primary operator.

• Knowledge of organic certification and production, and food safety requirements.

• Moderate computer skills, especially with MS Office, web browsers and email.

• College coursework in agriculture, ecology, biology, or other closely-related field.

This is a part-time, seasonal position from June through October (potentially renewable for 2015 and 2016), consisting of 20-25 hours per week, with a somewhat flexible schedule. Days and time of work include: Monday through Friday for approximately four hours each day; Wednesday is a longer day, from 7 am – 3:30 pm. Some weekend irrigation may be needed. Hourly wage is $13 – 15 per hour, commensurate with experience.

Maureen Thompson, Farm Program Manager, 530-795-4146 (office),

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