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California: intern on new Organic Farm

 
Jared Pazienza
Posts: 4
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
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Do you want to learn to milk a goat, ferment sauerkraut, save garden seeds, slaughter a chicken, prune an orchard, mix and apply clay plaster, make cheese, harvest fresh figs for market, install drip irrigation, make tortillas from home-grown corn, change a diaper, graft fruit trees, pour a foundation, process and eat acorns? Spreadwing Farm in the Capay Valley (Yolo County, California) is looking for interns starting in September, 2013. We are a small organic farm and homestead being developed by Cathy Suematsu, Michael G. Smith, their 3-year-old son and newborn daughter. Our goal is to provide a healthy, balanced, and inspirational home environment for our family and visitors, while eventually generating enough on-farm income to meet our financial needs. A lot of our energy goes into food production and preparation and caring for our children, with farm infrastructure, permaculture and natural building projects fitting in whenever possible. Projects planned for the Fall and winter season include an earthen pizza oven, a solar fruit dryer, restoration of a century-old water tower, and a major expansion of our orchard. We'd like to share our decades of experience with others who are excited to learn these skills. We provide amazing organic food, beautiful surroundings, a small cabin or tent site, and endless learning opportunities in exchange for about 40 hours a week of your help. Some experience is helpful, but the most important qualifications are enthusiasm, compatible personalities, and a desire to learn and to work hard. We prefer interns who can commit to between six and twelve months, but we can sometimes take people for shorter time periods. We will need to meet you in person before we can commit to working with you. For more info please email michael@emeraldearth.org or cathy@emeraldearth.org. Thank you!


In the words of one recent intern, "Working at Spreadwing Farm has been one of the most consistently challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. It has been an absolute privilege to learn from Michael and Cathy's collective wealth of knowledge. I have gained so many skills that I came here without, and have had the chance to hone skills I brought with me. I know that I have also grown personally, and understand myself in a way that I never have before. And that doesn't even begin to cover the incredible landscapes, wildlife, community and food that sustained me through all of it."
 
Dustin Wilkinson
Posts: 43
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Wonderful process... I just build my first earth oven a couple months ago...

Can you share more with me about your internship? Facebook.com/Theprofeshhhh or Projectperfectdayz@gmx.com

 
Jared Pazienza
Posts: 4
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
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Well, that's the basics of it. Send an email to Michael and Cathy at the previously mentioned email addresses with any specific questions!
 
Dustin Wilkinson
Posts: 43
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Will do... Thank you!
 
Jared Pazienza
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Location: Hudson Valley, NY
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Hey Dustin, here's some more detailed information for you:

Thanks for your interest in our internship.

Here's a little more information about our farm: we are a family homestead/small farm in the early stages of development. We keep a flock of about 60 chickens that we pasture in a mobile coop in our orchard, and we sell our surplus eggs. We have 17 goats, 4 of whom we are currently milking. We are about to slaughter several goats for meat and we make about 2 large batches of cheese each week, mostly for our own consumption and for trade. We grow a large veggie garden for our own use and spend a lot of time processing our own food from raw ingredients. We have planted about 200 fruit trees which are just starting to produce, and we plan to double the size of our orchard this coming winter. We have 4 giant old fig trees which we harvest each summer and sell. We grew 400 bed-feet of okra this summer and have been selling all of it except what we eat. We'll probably expand our veggie production for sale next year as well.

What exactly you will be doing with your time depends a lot on what time of year you're here. For example, we are currently doing a lot of harvesting, food processing, drying, canning, chicken slaughtering, planting our fall/winter garden, milking, making a lot of cheese, mowing, firewood cutting and stacking. Much of our time is taken up by tasks that need to happen every day or every week: milking the goats and mucking out the barn, weeding, watering and harvesting the garden. On a seasonal rotation there is planting, pruning the orchard, hatching chicks, and so on. There are always small to large construction projects that we fit in whenever we can find time. We're currently finishing up a composting toilet and a small but really beautiful cob and adobe vaulted building. Other priorities include building a solar fruit dryer and solar shower. There's a 100-year-old water tower that needs to be rebuilt almost from bottom to top. It's challenging to predict when the building projects will get attention because the living things always take priority. Generally we have more time for building projects in the winter and spring.

We have a small but very pleasant new cabin available as housing for one intern or a couple. Interns share kitchen and bathroom facilities with our family. We all take turns cooking and cleaning and we appreciate people who see these aspects of community life as exciting opportunities for service and experimentation rather than as chores. We also have 2 small children and we prefer interns who enjoy spending time with them and developing close relationships with them. Depending on their interest level, past interns have spent anywhere from 2 to 10 hours per week with the kids. Overall we expect interns to work around 40 hours per week. We've noticed that some interns count their hours and like to stick to a set schedule whereas others are more fluid and willing to take advantage of opportunities to learn and help out whenever they present themselves. There is always something going on on the farm and we never get everything done that we'd like to. In general we've found that the more energy and time our interns put in, the more skills and satisfaction they take with them when they leave.

As far as length of time commitment, we prefer a minimum of 4 months and give priority to those who can commit to longer. We have two interns here now who are about to complete 6 months with us, and previous interns have stayed as long as a year. But that being said, we need someone almost right away and would be willing to work with someone for a shorter period of time if that person feels like an excellent fit in other ways.

We live in a sparsely populated rural farming community, the Capay Valley. Many of our neighbors are organic growers and there is a great deal of mutual support and comeraderie, which has been invaluable for us while starting our own farm. Our local town center consists of a post office and town hall about a mile away. There are no stores closer than about half an hour drive, and the nearest natural food coop is nearly an hour's drive. However, our eating habits are such that we don't source much from the store; the large majority of our food is locally produced. We make a trip to Davis every week or two to buy some groceries, hardware, etc. It's very peaceful and quiet here and the natural surroundings are gorgeous. We are surrounded on all sides by undeveloped hills with many hiking options, and a creek/river flows through our land, which is great for swimming, tubing and kayaking in the summer.

In order to apply, please send us an email with your answers to the following questions. There are only a few questions, but the more detail you provide, the more it helps us assess whether you would be a good fit for us and vice versa. After that we would schedule a phone interview and/or a short visit. We will need to meet you before we can offer you a position.

What are you hoping to get out of an internship at Spreadwing Farm?
What is your experience level with gardening, farming, animal husbandry (specifically goats and chickens), children, general construction and maintenance, natural building, food processing and cooking?
What dietary preferences and restrictions do you have?
Do you have any physical issues that could compromise your ability to deal with hard work or heat?
When would you be available, and for how long? Do you have any other commitments during this period?

Let us know if you have any other specific questions.

Thank you for your interest,
Cathy and Michael
 
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