brand new video:
       
get all 177 hours of
presentations here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Trying Something New with Apprenticeships  RSS feed

 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I decided to start a new thread on this, sorry for the redundancy of the text below that I had included in a previous thread-

So, the serious cautions about farm internships for the legal and financial wellbeing of my farm lead me to call some of the nice folks in the government and insurance world today. (Sure am glad I am a farmer!) I found out some good and bad news-
If I have less than 500 man-days of work help on my farm, I am exempt from all Minimum Wage Laws. All of em. I can pay 1.3 cents per hour, or nothing at all, legally.
Workmans comp insurance is still required, which would cost me about $750 a year, per person.

Right now, I am thinking that I want to start a genuine apprentice program at Bella Farm. Have two or three people come from May to November. I would provide them room and farm food, and truly educate them about running a diversified small farm. They would commit to helping on the farm 30 hours a week, and pay the farm $100 a week for their room, board, and education.

I believe, from seeing both sides of the equation, that the current system of organic farm internships is a total bust for both parties. The interns dont learn enough, education wise. The farmer doesnt gain enough, labor wise.

My notion is to really step up the educational component, so that it is education at a college level in farming, rather than education by osmosis while weeding carrots. The apprentices would pay for that education, while also not being worked like slaves. The apprentices would live in a decent house with a kitchen, rather than a trailer or tent. The entire arrangement would be a higher level opportunity. The benefits and the costs would be higher for both the farmer and the apprentice. This would not be for the curious, this would be for the serious and comitted, willing to substantially invest in their education as individuals do in every other field of skilled labor.

For young aspiring farmers who genuinely want to commit themselves to learning the trade, what do you think?
 
Hildegard Bogart
Posts: 49
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I appreciate your post. Very interesting ideas that are worth considering. I like the idea of stepping up in regards to education.
I'm simply thinking out loud for a moment, to make sure I understand. From the perspective of WOOFER.

What I get:
Housing and food for six months.
Rent: $1,800
Food $1,200
Valuable knowledge with no certification. College level education equips me with accredited knowledge. I'm not saying that either holds more lessons. However, the latter gives me a better opportunity to show my credentials and secure gainful employment or convince partners to invest with me on a working farm.

What I give:
720 hours of labor. Estimated value, even at minimum wage , $5,148.
$2,400.00 for room and board.
(What you get) or My total cost...$7,548
3750

(What you give) or Your total cost...
Shared housing $1,800
Food for one : $1,200
$750 for workman's comp insurance.
Total: $3,750

$3798 difference in the Farmer's favor.
In my thinking, I am able to get a PDC for less than $3,798. Also, I can take a ten day intensive over the course of five weekends and keep working my $12/hour job with full benefits.
We all have choices. It is not my intention to challenge your offer. It is my intention to offer you another perspective, as that is what I believe you are searching for. All comments are appreciated. I believe you are on to a topic that deserves exploration. Your point about signing up to weed carrots is completely on point.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If I have less than 500 man-days of work help on my farm, I am exempt from all Minimum Wage Laws. All of em. I can pay 1.3 cents per hour, or nothing at all, legally.


apparently you have been looking into this, and the laws vary from state to state, but as far as i understand, this is not true.
if anyone works for anyone, even if they are related to you or close friends, then min wage laws must be followed.

now if the people are happy doing it, volunteer etc, then no one would need to know ...but as far as i know no one is exempt from this.
the suggestion, even joking of 1.3 cents an hour, well...tiptoeing....here...

as for my totally obnoxious opinion, it seems asking for a lot from someone, to want money invested on top of the labor.
if there were long term totally styled living situation...like if you were offering a long term living situation with a private space for them to do private projects, have their own space, then it would seem more fitting. but as stated for short term education, and for labor, this being a person living in your world without much autonomy.... it seems a more even trade to just request labor and no rent/money investment.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So I think the key question is-

What is the educational value of a six month farming program?

In the math examply Hildegard presented, there is a 'balance' of $3700. The thing is, somehow, there was no accounting for the value of the education provided. If someone is on the farm, learning, for 6 months, then their education cost breaks down to $150 per week. $25 per day. That seems like a pretty reasonable cost for a technical level education. I dont know of any farm workshops or other technical education that cost $25 per day.

A PDC is a completely different educational offering. There are a lot of concepts that can be taught much better over the course of a farming season, then over a few weekends. A PDC gives you a conceptual education. A season-long apprenticeship gives you a deep and practical understanding of how things actually work on a real farm. Very different. A PDC is great for someone who needs to learn the basics in a clearly designed package. An apprenticeship is going to provide a much better preparation for the actual reality of earning a living as a farmer. It is an apples to oranges comparison.

There is a complete lack of practical educational opportunities for aspiring farmers. There are a very few universities offering them, like UC Santa Cruz, but that program is a real exception, and costs quite a few pennies more. You do not need a degree to be a farmer, but you sure need an enormous educational skillset to make a living as one. It is a highly skilled, technical profession. Learning the trade takes time, opportunity, and investemnt. Granted, there are very few who actually want to be professional farmers. For those that have this aspiration, investing in their education will make their future success much more likely. Maybe there is a connection between all the young farmers that fail, and the fact that the extent to their farming education was woofing and a few workshops? For those that want to have better odds of success in a challenging and highly rewarding field, true farm apprenticeships are an essential investment.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
leila hamaya wrote:
If I have less than 500 man-days of work help on my farm, I am exempt from all Minimum Wage Laws.


apparently you have been looking into this, and the laws vary from state to state, but as far as i understand, this is not true.


This is not a state issue. This is federal law. I spoke with the US Dept of Labor yesterday. There is an exemption for farms and ranches who utilize outside labor for less than 500 man days annually.

That is the letter of the law, applicable to all 50 states.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
maybe california is particularly strict about this, because of the immigration issues...and thats involved with a lot of slave labor farms,mistreatment of the workers, with the legal and illegal immigrants and theres lots here. even if a person is an illegal immigrant here, they must be paid min wage for farm labor....thats written into the states labor code and theres a lot of laws around this theme to prevent exploitation. not like people know about them actually, but they exist.

but anyway i am pretty sure this is not true in california.
well , what do i know for sure? its not as though i have totally studied up on this, but i have known of some people who were looking into this....
as far as i know this is not true in california, and the individual state labor boards make rules for each state.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
curious enough to google it
but this isnt all about really small farms.

http://www.salon.com/2012/09/12/californias_rampant_farm_labor_abuse/

http://www.californiafarmlink.org/farm-business-management/labor-laws-for-small-farms

perhaps i am wrong, but i would look into your own states labor board to check it out.
i am certainly not one to preach on about things being legal/illegal =P but i just thought this was incorrect...maybe its just locally...
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leila-
The key to the exemption is that you can only utilize less than 500 man/days per year. So two guys working full time blows the exemption. The large farms in California would blow through the exemption limit in a week. This exemption to the federal minimum wage law is specifically for small farms utilizing minimal outside labor. That's me!

I am not a big law-lover myself, but that's the deal. Better to call the specific agency and get straight to the answer, than to speculate on google.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
from: http://www.californiafarmlink.org/storage/images/business_assistance/CA-Guide-Final.pdf

Federal and state laws sometimes have different standards for the same statute, which can be confusing.
When state and federal laws have different standards, whichever law is more beneficial for the workers will override the other.
Employers are required to pay the higher wage, or adhere to the stricter standard.
In most cases, California state laws regarding labor are more rigorous than federal laws, with a few exceptions.

Federal Minimum Wage Law
Federal law states that employees must be paid a minimum of $7.25 per hour after July 24, 2009.
There is an exemption for agricultural employers. However, the California minimum wage law trumps the federal minimum wage
law, and the federal exemption. Employers are required to follow the California minimum wage law, outlined below.
8
State Minimum Wage Law
California minimum wage is $8.00/hour as of Jan 1, 2008.
Employers are required to pay the higher wage to an employee when state and federal minimum wages are different.

Meals and lodging may be credited against the minimum wage, but only with a
written agreement between the employer and the employee. If you are going to use the value of meals and lodging to meet part of the
minimum wage requirement, you must not credit more than the following amounts
......................

exemptIons
mInImum wAge

The 500 Man-Day Exemption
Any employer in agriculture who did not utilize more than 500 “man days” of agricultural labor in anycalendar year is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA for the current calendar year.
A “man-day” is defined as any day during which an employee performs agricultural work for at least one hour.
12

California Labor Code and applicable IWC wage orders supersede this exemption by requiring payment of overtime and giving employees a more generous wage than the FLSA. Therefore, the 500-day exemption does not apply in California.
13
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
sorry, not trying to be a know it all, i do not know it all that FOR SURE! but just trying to clear up what i thought was a misconception, since you seem to want to look into this by the book.

if your people are HAPPY with the arrangement this doesnt matter as much.

i personally have had a LOT of bad experiences with work slave, or i mean work trade. it SUCKS. and it sucks that it sucks, because it seems it could work out great if the people are dealing in integrity.
i would like to see that, and i would love to see some people working it out where it works out great and everyone is happy, seems it should be possible =)

so forgive if it seems i am suggesting that you arent wanting to do this with integrity, thats NOT what i am getting at...seems you want to do this with integrity and all flush with the law. in which case you need to read your states laws from the labor board.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Solid Leila, I stand corrected. And am once again, thankful to not be in California.

Colorado has a pretty libertarian political culture, which has its pros and cons. The folks at state level here said call the feds, we have nothing on our books that you need to worry about. It is lovely that they dont regulate farmers and homeschoolers, not so much when it comes to the oil and gas industry.

You are right about poor living work arrangements. That has been my experience as well. That is why I started this thread, to try and figure out a better way, for both the farmer and the apprentice. It is a fine balance. My farm runs great just with my family, so I am in no position of need for outside help. Teaching others has to happen in a way that improves my life on the farm, or I would just stick with the balance that I have developed over the years.

I feel a desire to make true farm education available to people. Becoming a successful farmer was the hardest thing I have done in my life, and want others to have an easier path into family farming. Not for free, not at the expense of my family and my farm, but in a way that is good for both parties. All constructive comments welcome to make that so.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
well in my theoretical view, as constructive suggestions, the thing that would make it seem more balanced is related to what i was saying above about offering a nice private living situation, autonomy, and a possibility of long term involvement, as well as the ability to do self directed projects. more of a partnership type situation, a different dynamic.

there could still be a lot of learning/teaching.
though perhaps this is more applicable to someone who already has some experience, rather than newbies needing educational experience.
i dont know. i dont have an easy answer, just a lot of thoughts.

perhaps if you really just want to teach, you should not require "work" but only some hands on learning. if this came with a nice living situation, and excellent food included, then it might be more appealing for someone to be paying
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The situation you describe is something I envision as well, but is entirely different. My notion is that if somebody were to come here, and I were to educate them for a season, and they worked out splendidly, then I would love to offer them their own house, autonomy, and self-direction for the coming year. It is not the kind of offer I would make to anybody who has not learned from me, learned my farm, and proven themself as a capable and valuable asset to my family farm.

I am targeting the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, college-age person who feels with every fibre in their body that they want to be a farmer. They have a good character and a positive attitude. They also know that they do not know hardly anything about how to be a real life farmer, and are willing to earn those skills. Such an education would not be free. The person would pay in time and in money, and would be compensated with an opportunity to live in paradise, and learning the trade of diversified small farming.

I envision this based on my path in life. I started out well over a decade ago knowing that I wanted to be a farmer, and not knowing much about how to achieve that. I learned the hard way, because that is the type of independent, self-reliant individual that I am. Along the way, I have watched many of my peers collapse with failure, unable to make it as a small farmer. I believe that through my personal experience, I have a wealth of knowledge to teach somebody who is now in the position that I once was. For somebody who wants to earn a living as a farmer, not merely grow their own food, a thorough apprenticeship would be worth some small expense, comparable to the cost of a semester at college. In that, I am confident.
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam - I can understand how difficult it would be to find interns that would be quality. How do you screen for something like that? I am hoping to get to a point where I can take some time to live learning opportunities, but I can honestly say that when I get to that point, I won't have extra money to put into the pot. Yes, that might burn me. I will have the integrity and work ethic, just finding the right situation to match will be the hard part. Trust is a two way street and, sometimes the street is newly paved, however, sometimes it is pot hole heaven.

Maybe you could get in touch with Mark Sheppard about this. I know that he doesn't agree with the no-pay or make them pay idea and acutally pays his interns. I believe the interns have specific specialties they work on and, if they are successful, they share in the rewards of that. If they are not, I am not sure that they get anything $$ in return. I don't know the entire story behind that, just remembered hearing him comment on it in a video or something I read. He might be able to suggest a model that would work for your situation.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jen Shrock wrote:
Maybe you could get in touch with Mark Sheppard about this. I know that he doesn't agree with the no-pay or make them pay idea and acutally pays his interns. I believe the interns have specific specialties they work on and, if they are successful, they share in the rewards of that. If they are not, I am not sure that they get anything $$ in return. I don't know the entire story behind that, just remembered hearing him comment on it in a video or something I read. He might be able to suggest a model that would work for your situation.


Good suggestion Jen. I found this article- http://www.resilience.org/stories/2010-11-12/mark-shepherds-106-acre-permaculture-farm-viola-wisconsin
That discusses Mark's internship approach. It is novel and unique, though quite different than what I am aiming to create.
His system is dependent on integrating individuals who already have a permacultural/agricultural skill set. He is more doing farm business mentoring, which is great, but different from the bottom-up education that I plan to provide.

I am looking towards the many, many young people who want to learn these skills and do not have any foundation. My farm is pretty much complete. This isnt a wwoofing project to come build my infrastructure for me. There is not an extra pasture for somebody to graze animals on, or an extra field to grow a new vegetable in. I do not need outside labor to make my farm work.

I am looking to add education as a means of diversifying. Similarly to my ambition to add writing and public speaking to my farm portfolio. I am looking to cultivate young human farmers as the next the crop for my farm. I plan to earn an honest income from this crop, as I do from all my crops. The key is making the exchange worthwile and valuable for both parties. Sorting out the details is the key, and the reason for this productive online discussion.

Thanks for contributing, I appreciate all ideas here.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam, you are offering a great opportunity. I think what you are offering is well worth what you are asking. The knowledge and experience you've shared on these forums is worth a lot!
There are sharp interested young people out there and many of them want to farm. (Lots of young people are soft helpless humans who have no idea what they want or how to work but I'm not taking about them)

A good application and interview process can go a long way toward finding the right people and weeding out those who are not a good fit. Asking the right questions and trusting your instincts will get you the folks you want, I think. I've had good success with this and can share my experience with anyone who's interested, pm me.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So I can only speak to my experience and am happy to do so -

In my experience the Intern is generally the one to get the crappy end of the deal. The farm gets a bunch of REALLY cheap labor. Now, all of the farms I've interned on have been totally off the books about it at all -some going so far as to say "Look if anyone comes around you don't live here, you don't work here, you're just visiting get it?' so I think it's cool that you're trying to be legit about it all. But there is also no goddamn way in hell I'd pay to labor for someone. When I was 20 I walked away from an offer from the State Department to have y'all tax payers pay for the rest of my education and employment to pursue farming. It was the only thing I felt morally okay with.

I feel I got an decent education out of it even when I was working for the worst bosses - sometimes learning what not do is the most valuable experience. And here I am - experience, knowledgeable, with positive references and there are virtually no employment opportunities available, and all of them that are are more farm internship that pay way less than a livable way.

I sure as hell can't afford my own land despite being at a place experience wise where I'd be confident in my abilities to run a successful business if I could. The farm intern thing is unfortunately basically a dead end deal from my perspective. You labor away and make the owner lots of money (during some single days I would plant and or harvest over 10,000 worth of crops) and in the end you're left with nothing but a reference for a job that not hiring.

It's really a frustrating situation.

I don't know what the answer is because its not like the people who own and operate the business are becoming rich doing it - many of them are operating so close to margin they can't pay people what they're worth even when they want to. I do know that many areas of the world spend 40 to 50 percent of their income on food while we in the US pay approximately 6%.

I'm sure you have an awesome farm. I'd love to visit it and I can't stand watching other people work. But I feel I must re-iterate the long term opportunity from doing this sort of thing is a total crap shoot.

If I'm to spend the best most productive years of my life doing something - especially something involving back breaking physical labor - I deserve to be compensated for it. Instead I have been impoverished to the point where I feel I have virtually no opportunity all.

Just my take. I've worked full time for 5 farms since 2007
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alright. That probably came off as pretty bitter. Let me briefly describe the best compensation I had. This is a situation I was happy with and may entertain taking again even though it breaks down to less than minimum wage and would never give the opportunity to save enough for my own land

I had one job where I got 500/month during the shoulder season (30 hrs a week) and 800 during high season (40-60 hours a week) I had my own private room and kitchenette (I payed for gas). I got as many veggies as I could eat and as Long as I wasn't eating several 3 egg omelets daily more or less free run of the eggs. I also got a very liberal totally at my discretion trade allotment. I ran many a market for them and they trusted me enough to handle all the money and not trade away all the produce until the end of the day. Because we all got along well and were all interested in farming we'd often sit around at the end of the day drink some beers (there goes that 800 a month...) maybe smoke a joint - and talk all night about farming. He'd share some good info, She'd ask some great questions, I'd bring up an interesting article. It was an awesome educational experience. No charge - just BYOB
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
21
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also - I do think you could swing something like this as a 6 week course or something. Charging people I mean. But as someone who has more or less dedicated their adult life to this sort of thing I cannot imagine paying to be someones employee. Sorry if that sounds harsh. Just where I'm at.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
^^^^^^^^^^
yeah i still echo the above sentiments.
i would never go for it, and even for someone else....would think the person, theoretically, was asking for way too much.

i am not trying to devalue what you have to teach, just seeing that too often the person doing the work is getting devalued...theres definitely this sense of because of this alternative kind of thing the work gets seen as free and there can be a lot of weird around that..the amount of hours and what is being requested as the committment level of the person, 30 hours a week, is a large contribution for a person to make to someone else's project. this is 300 dollars a week in my mind, 1,200 a month.

even to request that much work without paying is a huge amount of labor requested. the person would not have much time or energy to do any other things, such as seek other employment for $, or just enjoy themselves having more free time, and self directed projects they wanted to do.

to me it seems thats more the way of someone considered a legit employee, a land partner, or something that was a long term investment for the person.
where if you want to just teach, and mentor people there shouldnt be so many hours with them working in exchange....and the work they do should be actually learning and primarily benefitting them, if its all about teaching.

and yeah if someone really wants to be a farmer, they will obviously have to be able to work a lot more than that, but thats when they are working on their own projects/farms or whatever...not that they should have to do it for another's project.


It's really a frustrating situation.

I don't know what the answer is because its not like the people who own and operate the business are becoming rich doing it - many of them are operating so close to margin they can't pay people what they're worth even when they want to.


but this is the problem with this problem, its all interconnected with all the larger problems. the absurd costs of real estate, the nearly impossible circumstances people are facing trying to make a life farming, etc...its all tied together. then it gets people taking it out on each other ...perhaps the interns blame the farmers ...the owners blame the interns...but the thing is its all set up weird and its extremely difficult due to larger problems.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Landon, I think you are missing the plot a bit. I am offering an educational opportunity. I am not hiring workers and not paying them. There is a huge difference. See my posts above. I do not have a need for labor on my farm. I have a willingness and a desire to teach asprining farmers. I am going to take my time, and utilize my farm, to provide people with work training so that they have skills and confidence to become farmers themselves.

I am not looking for individuals, like yourself, that have professional level skills. Skilled labor deserves to be paid well for their work. I am looking to teach somebody, something they do not know. I will be taking my time to teach them, and will be paid for my own professional level skills, as such. I agree that a smart person can learn from any situation, as you have. But a good teacher is also a pretty darn valuable thing, usually worth paying for.

I want somebody to leave my farm ready and able to start their own. That would take a minimum of two years I would imagine. I am offering a six month paid apprenticeship as the opening chapter to that opportunity. I believe that if a person worked out well enough to actually make it themselves as a farmer, that at the end of the two years I would have paid them in total, rather than the other way around. But to start, you gotta pay the price of admission. That's fair.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam Klaus wrote:Landon, I think you are missing the plot a bit. I am offering an educational opportunity. I am not hiring workers and not paying them. There is a huge difference. See my posts above. I do not have a need for labor on my farm. I have a willingness and a desire to teach asprining farmers. I am going to take my time, and utilize my farm, to provide people with work training so that they have skills and confidence to become farmers themselves.

I am not looking for individuals, like yourself, that have professional level skills. Skilled labor deserves to be paid well for their work. I am looking to teach somebody, something they do not know. I will be taking my time to teach them, and will be paid for my own professional level skills, as such. I agree that a smart person can learn from any situation, as you have. But a good teacher is also a pretty darn valuable thing, usually worth paying for.

I want somebody to leave my farm ready and able to start their own. That would take a minimum of two years I would imagine. I am offering a six month paid apprenticeship as the opening chapter to that opportunity. I believe that if a person worked out well enough to actually make it themselves as a farmer, that at the end of the two years I would have paid them in total, rather than the other way around. But to start, you gotta pay the price of admission. That's fair.


Maybe I am confused - Where does the 30 hours a week come in? That is them doing work for you, yes? I have worked for a couple people who bill things that way - In my experience the reality has been what I've described - but that is a totally subjective experience, unfortunately for me not a very positive one.

But yes - a Greenhorn is often more trouble than good, 6 months to train one up is a fair estimate, and even with you as a teacher I don't know if I'd have felt ready to start a farm of my own after just 2 years. I absolutely agree a good teacher is invaluable. I'm sure someone might be into this arrangement all circumstances being different and all. Go for it!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6778
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
262
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It might be in the best interest of all involved to only take on students who own or have access to land to work when they are done. You could also get them to prove that they have an adequate nest egg. Many people have these things, many do not. If a person has their house in order with a clear plan (not dream) to start farming the following year, you're likely to find them more eager to learn and willing to pay.

I took on two of the planet's laziest inhabitants who arrived with a dream. The next people who occupy my cottage will pay rent and I won't ask them to do a thing. If for some reason they average 5 minutes a day doing something useful, this will add up to more than has happened thus far.

Because of my negative experience, I will only offer short stay, farm tourism experiences. Visitors will have only one job, to pay me each day.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
111
bee books chicken duck goat trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having listened to Adam's excellent interview on Permaculture Voices, one assumption that needs to be said out loud is that he actually was a classroom teacher at one point in his life. He knows how to put together a curriculum and deliver it with activities, directed reading, one-on-one instruction. If that's his vision, then the financial equation seems very equitable, especially for an underemployed youth. Teachers need to teach, it's a character defect

Adam, have you looked into how Salatin talks about internships, where the finances ebb then flow between intern and farmer; I pay you at first, then after I am actually useful, you pay me? I'd bet you'd also have an opportunity for a second year intern to develop an enterprise that expands on your yields, like raising a value-added product to sell at the farmers market alongside what you are already doing. So I spend the first summer learning and planning, the second summer actually producing something that doesn't compete with your products and learning to sell and market it. Intern leaves, you can decide whether to keep doing that new thing, hand it off to the next year's intern, or maybe the intern stays in the community and keeps doing it on his/her own. Maybe the spinoff takes more than two years, but you incubate new entrepreneurial farmers who then can serve as mentors for your classroom-in-the-field.

Now, having worked with enough college kids in my academic career, I would expect they would spend the intervening winter at the nearby ski resorts, working if they are on their own ticket; skiing if still on mom and dad's payroll. I've seen both, I know which I'd rather have around the ranch.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ann Torrence wrote:
Adam, have you looked into how Salatin talks about internships, where the finances ebb then flow between intern and farmer; I pay you at first, then after I am actually useful, you pay me? I'd bet you'd also have an opportunity for a second year intern to develop an enterprise that expands on your yields, like raising a value-added product to sell at the farmers market alongside what you are already doing. So I spend the first summer learning and planning, the second summer actually producing something that doesn't compete with your products and learning to sell and market it.


Thanks Ann, that is helpful and constructive. I will look up Salatin's talks; do you have any recommended links?

I really like the idea of an apprentice paying me at first, and then the flow switching the other way, if the person is actually contributing enough to make it worth it.

My apprentices would be contributing money and labor. I would be recipricotaing with my labor, and room and board.

As a professional farmer, my labor is worth easily 3x the value of a novice. Easily. So if I teach you for 10 hours a week, then you balance that by working 30. That is because I am highly skilled, and you are an entry level worker. In monetary terms, if you are worth $8/hour working on a farm, I am worth $24 teaching. That is fair.

The apprentice would be paying $400/month for room and board. They would be living in a beautiful apartment, not a trailer or a yurt. They would be eating food that is better than what they could buy at Whole Foods. I dont see how that is not an excellent deal for the apprentice.


Seems like a fair relationship in my eyes. Sorry that so many folks had such bad experiences on farms. That is a lot of what I would like to correct, by doing things differently.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
An interesting observation that I have noticed:

The folks making a living from farming seem to think that paying for education is a reasonable and productive concept. They seem generally much more supportive of the framework I am putting together.

The folks rejecting paid apprenticeships out of hand do not make their livings farming. Maybe it is a better idea than they realize.

Maybe those of us who have successfully established ourselves as economically sound farmers have a better sense of the value of doing it right, learning through education. There are a lot of ways to not succeed as farmers. Growing the carrot is really but a small part of the equation.

We never know what the other paths in life would have looked like. We can only imagine the possibilities by listening to others. Maybe farming would have been more achievable if different chioces had been made. I would like to help young people to make those choices, so that they can be successful farmers themselves someday.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
111
bee books chicken duck goat trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam Klaus wrote:
I will look up Salatin's talks; do you have any recommended links?

Racking my brain. I think he was talking about European farmers who set it up that way, not his own farm. It might be in an audio book, Folks, this ain't normal. I listened to that on a long solo drive so no notes anywhere. Or or or. It might not even have been Salatin, but I think it was. It definitely was a multi-year deal with the student/apprentice, with a defined transition of payment flows so that the farmer didn't get burned it the apprentice lost the romance quickly but the apprentice earned a reasonable amount once they were trained up. Traveling today, don't have access to all my data. Will try to remember.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The real food and nice place to live is worth quite a lot of value. And have y'all read about Adam's farm? It's the real deal.

I think Adam is making an improvement on the depressing/frustrating intern relationships that are discussed on the interns thread referenced above. What he's offering won't speak to everyone, and he wouldn't want just anyone, but for the right folks it will be a good investment that will pay dividends forever.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
111
bee books chicken duck goat trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I also think that not enough discussion/attention is paid to learning how to actually sell a farm product. This is non-trivial. Learning to package, price, find and keep customers, invoicing restaurants, getting invoices paid, interacting with the public. Whole college majors are offered on business and acting like it is something trivial to figure out after you grow some stuff is asking for financial failure. Never mind regulatory issues, HACCP, licensing, insurance, taxes...it's more than just trees in the ground. Learning that from a seasoned farmer would be worth the price of admission IMHO.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i also disagree with the underlaying idea, brought up in several different ways by different posters, that having one's house together, having excess cash available, having sound economic stance....indicates a better person. it does NOT imo.
most likely it indicates someone who had a better start in life, someone who lives off mommy and daddy, and someone of a higher economic background to BEGIN with.
if you want to limit the people to people like this, well what can i say about it cause it doesnt matter to me...but you are likely doing that and it seems unfair.

but i get tired of that illusion/perception and the way its so often repeated by those who can afford this illusion. how strongly they seem convinced it is this way. if youre good and work hard you get somewhere and therefore have money.... i do not see this is true at all, nor have i EVER been able to see this.

many struggling young people would probably not see the deal quite the same way, having to come up with money while being offered no chance to make any. having their labor valued at 8 dollars an hour, and to pay another 24 dollars an hour. i would NEVER pay anyone 24 dollars an hour for anything.
this is on top of a large amount of labor asked, presumably towards work that does not directly benefit the student...

but i will shut up now anyway =)
i just see that so often and it always irks me....
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6778
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
262
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've never seen one member of the forum mention family money. I've been self supporting since the summer I turned 14. I did inherit $200 once, but that's it. The rest came through hard labor, doing useful things that people are willing to pay for.

That $24 per hour figure is an odd one. That is less than the average wage around here. It's hard to get a qualified tradesman at that rate. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, all make more than this. My sometimes demolition laborer Jeff has no particular training or paper to say he's good at anything. But, he's a hot damn working machine, just like me. I pay him $25 per hour.

Dental services, excavator work and legal services, typically cost more than $100 per hour. This is the reality of my world. Things cost money. At the bottom of the pile are minimum waged workers - $10.50 per hour. Both Jeff and I can out produce more than 3 of your average worker in that position. We therefore earn more.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
5
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@Adam...


I see your concept as very doable and a step in the right direction. Have you checked with your local colleges, universities, and trades schools? Having an accredited program or an apprenticeship that earns credits at their school would provide the students the greatest benefit. I also suspect that you would have apprentices who applied themselves more than those who stop in on a passing whim. Ultimately, this arrangement would provide society with highly skilled new farmers, who provide sustainable quality goods and services to their communities.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam,

I haven't had time to catch up with everyone's thoughts on this thread - but I did re-read it last night and have been thinking it over a bit today. I think I understand better what your proposing is. If you are proposing a 6 month apprenticeship with 100 dollars a month to secure your time and their interest followed by an employment opportunity if the apprenticeship works out I think what you're offering is fair. Actually, a much more cost effective way to get your foot in the door than I did. I payed full instate tuition (granted their was academic credit involved) for my first farm work - and I didn't feel it was worth it so I moved on to getting payed (poorly) to do the same thing and found it to be an equal or superior learning experience. My main frustration stems from and continues to be the lack of real opportunity once the experience is gained - and that certainly does not reflect one way or another on all the teachers and employers I've had from poor to stellar. Its part of a much larger issue.

I think, having been in the position of a total novice wanting to learn the trade - a six month apprenticeship with a clear agreement leading to employment opportunity with a single talented farmer and teacher (The importance of having several seasons experience in one location cannot be stressed enough IMO) would be an option I would encourage any interested greenhorn to seriously look at. That does sound fair and I continue to urge you to go for it.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6778
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
262
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One way I could see tweaking this on the affordability front, would be to have potential students come and work off their tuition or a portion of it in advance. You'd want to have a system where you could end it on very short notice if things aren't working out. I generally give a few days notice if a job is winding down and about 2 minutes notice if lack of production is the issue. This trial period could save all of you a lot of trouble. A student who works out as a farm hand, will probably be someone who will make a good student. You'd want to have a contract which states that tuition is being earned. Otherwise someone might go crying to the labor people that they want the money and not the training.

We have a dental school near here. They do a lot of free dental work with various charities. Some of them also travel to poor countries to practice on those who can't pay. So the idea of working while learning is seen elsewhere.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale Hodgins wrote:
We have a dental school near here. They do a lot of free dental work with various charities. Some of them also travel to poor countries to practice on those who can't pay. So the idea of working while learning is seen elsewhere.


When the day comes that I get paid a quarter as well as a dentist, I will be sure to do a lot of free work on the side too. Not holding my breath...
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Though in all seriousness, I did have a nice talk with the North American Biodynamic Apprentice Program director today. My farm is a Biodynamic farm, hence the association. They have a really interesting model for a two year apprentice program, which I think might be a good fit for me as a mentor.

The Biodynamic apprenticeship is a two year program, with a detailed curriculum. Apprentices work at different farms during their time, studying different subjects depending on the mentoring strengths of a given farm. By spending time on different farms, the apprentice completes their curriculum. There is an emphasis on actual teaching, rather than merely performing manual labor. The specific financial arrangements are on an individual basis, depending on the quality of room and board, work expectations, and depth of teaching on a given farm. The key thing is that there is professional oversight, to ensure that the apprentices are learning and that mentors are teaching. The expectations revolve around education, rather than farm work and experience. The mentors are specifically valued for their time spent teaching, and not just working. It is an educational program fundamentally, where the mentors are valued as teachers.

I need to work out some more of the details, but as a mechanism for pairing seriuos students, with actual mentor farmers, it sounds like a great framework.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
392
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you for creating this thread, Adam. I tried to research if Washington State code speaks to the 500 "man hours" exemption and I didn't find a mention of it either way.

I only found a reference to a non-repeat-ag-worker, permanent off-site resident, piecework employee exemption (for lack of a better description) in WA State Dept. of L&I Minimum Wage Act Applicability document under 6a).

There is huge value to the farm education you're describing and I've been attempting to help other farms figure out how to legally offer similar agreements.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6778
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
262
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For any live in situation, agricultural or otherwise, you can effectively change the wage rate by altering the amount charged for room and board. Call yourself a Bed&Breakfast and charge $100 per day. They can whine and squeal, but if you can legally claim B&B or motel status, you set the rates and they don't have to be related to the earnings of your clientele.
 
Luke Vaillancourt
Posts: 42
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Adam,

Thanks for this thread ..it's so pertinent to someone like myself and I enjoyed reading through everyone's comments. Now I'll chime in as I'd probably fall into the category of "eligible candidate" for this proposed internship.

Its almost serendipitous that I found this thread because after hearing your interview on the Permaculture Voices Podcast, I thought to myself "man, now this sounds like a great guy and a wonderful farm to intern on...too bad he doesn't have interns at present!"
...and now I come across this thread!

I'm 25, from southern NH, and highly motivated to pursue regenerative/diversified farming as my life's pursuit. I completed my PDC with Ben Falk last year, have some natural building and timber framing experience, and have volunteered on several local farms. I've been offered an apprenticeship on a local biodynamic farm in Wilton, NH which actually pays $500.00/month. I recently visited and met with the farmer there and it seems like a great opportunity as he is also a former teacher and a very nice and patient fellow that I think I could learn a lot from. That said, If I had the opportunity to pick which place I'd like to be, without any other influential factors, be they monetary or otherwise, I'd pick Bella Farm. After hearing you speak on the podcast it sounds like such a great operation and you seem like an excellent teacher. This biodynamic operation in NH is diversified (dairy and veggie CSA), but not to the level Bella is, with a permaculture inspired structure and HIGH diversification that I see as the future of small-farming.

Unfortunately I don't have total freedom now-a-days to float to whatever farm suits my fancy to work and learn. I, like so many of my peers desiring to break into small-farming, have already made the mistake of taking the the "big sell" from their high school guidance counselor and enrolled into the "best" college or university they could get into, regardless of tuition and cost. Although my education in political science from the University of New Hampshire is not something to frown upon, it is however way overpriced and has put myself and many peers into a state of servitude towards a heavy debt burden. For those of us wishing to make a go at farming, we could hardly afford to accept a mutual situation of no cost/no pay....never mind, actually paying to be an intern.

I don't mean to knock your concept down at all and I'm sure its quite a value at 400/month. But for myself and so many of my peers in a similar situation, paying to learn is no longer a viable option. Believe me, I'm already thinking about taking this biodynamic position in NH at 500/month, saving up as much as I can, and then giving you that same money in 2015 to be a part of Bella Farm. .. but not as many are as enthusiastic about Adam Klaus and Bella Farm as I am.

Either way, thanks for all you do ...your story is definitely motivating, wherever my path may take me.

 
Jim LaFrom
Posts: 36
Location: Truckee, CA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For those of you considering the rental/ B and B route of getting around this problem I would caution you that most towns/cities have 'transient taxes' that apply to hotel, motels and B and B's I don't care how far out of town you 'think' you are. This tax is fairly steep because the cities feel like it is 'free' money coming into the community from them outsiders. If you are going 'legit' this is something to at least be aware of if not comply with. Just another cost of doing business. If you call it a rental you can have other headaches of actually having to go through a formal eviction process if there is someone that wanted to outstay their welcome and usefulness. An unwanted tenant could end up on your property 30 days to over 6 mos with the right kinds of shenanigans. So a trip to a lawyer would be money well spent, before establishing your business identity and model you are thinking of following. It's not a problem when everyone is in agreement, It can be a BIG problem for you when you aren't in agreement and the other side knows their rights. It can REALLY get pretty UGLY .
 
That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I think a piece of pie wouldn't kill me. Tiny ad:
The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23444/digital-market/digital-market/Earth-Sheltered-Solar-Greenhouse-Book
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!