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ORGANIC FARMING

Position: Assistant Farm Manager
Farm: Laughing Apple Farm
Location: Salt Spring Island, BC
Housing: shared housing available (see below)

The position:

We need a person to co-manage all aspects of organic food production on our mixed vegetable and fruit farm. You will be working closely with one of the owners of the farm on a daily basis. Preferably the applicant would have 3-5 years’ experience growing vegetables according to organic practices year-around in a northern climate. We farm a large variety of vegetable crops and are looking for someone who would enjoy thinking independently and helping us continue to improve our practices. There could be opportunities to start a new crop, expand production, or make a new product. We have 3 acres under cultivation for vegetables, four greenhouses for year-around greens production, two 200 square ft heated spaces for year-around production of lettuce and microgreens, 500+ apple trees, ~ 30 plums/pears/peach trees, 70 cherry trees, raspberries, blueberries. We host two apprentices each year and hire seasonal workers in the summer for the large crops and the berries. The owners assist with all aspects of the farm. We have a thriving community-supported farm stand, a year-around farm membership program (like a flexible CSA), and we sell locally to chefs and other CSAs. This is a full-time position with accommodation, a salary, a large amount of produce from the farm, staples, and the opportunity to have personal growing space for food. More consideration will be given to someone who would be willing to consider a long-term position.

Who we are:

Laughing Apple Farm is located in a scenic and quiet spot on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. We (Brian and Mary) have been farming here for 24 years and have developed efficient organic methods for producing a diversity of food year-around on a small scale. Our farm was originally homesteaded in the 1880s and consists of about 120 acres of forest surrounding 40 acres of farmed land. We have a beautiful location – our property is on the western side of Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands of BC. There are walking trails through the woods and to a beach, and a small lake where you can swim in the summer. On Salt Spring Island there is a dynamic community and our farm stand provides many opportunities to interact with interesting and like-minded people.

We grow tree fruit, berries, and veggies using organic and low-till methods. We grow crops in six greenhouses to extend the growing season as well as crops in large outside beds. We also grow hay (about 20 acres) and propagate and sell nursery plants from a large ornamental garden. In the fall we process most of our apple crop into apple juice with a commercial-scale apple press. We sell our produce primarily at our farm stand, and also to local stores and chefs. Our bees produce a few hundred pounds of honey every year.

Our goal is to make delicious, beautiful, and nutritious produce and we are continually working to improve our knowledge and methods so that we grow better food and be better stewards of our land. We think providing food for people who live nearby generates community connection and is a worthy and fulfilling occupation for a lifetime. We encourage young people to learn to farm.

Why would you want to apply for this position:

  • You can learn about and participate in growing a large variety of crops organically (we are not certified) for local consumption using low till methods
  • You can help young people learn to farm and understand what farming on this scale entails
  • You can to work independently and gain skill in decision making with the support of people who have a lot of experience in this kind of farming
  • You will be able to gain experience in all the decision making, analysis, and planning that goes into running a farm (you would be involved in discussions on profitability, comparison of crops and planting decisions every year to reassess our farming model)
  • You would have opportunities to research and grow new crops
  • You would have opportunities to learn about bee-keeping, tractors, shop skills, irrigation systems, or other things you want to learn – we encourage and support continual learning for all of our team
  • You can live in a beautiful place and have housing - the farm is situated on an island where housing is scarce
  • You can interact with enthusiastic customers - Salt Spring Island has a tradition of supporting small local farms and has a creative and interesting community
  • You will learn about apple pressing on a commercial scale as we press both our own apples and many other people’s apples on the island in the fall.

Preferred qualifications:

  • 3-5 years’ experience with organically producing and marketing a large number of crops
  • At least 1-2 years’ experience managing other people
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a small team
  • Have some experience with marketing (presentation of produce, pricing, farmer’s market experience is beneficial)
  • Be able to work quickly in a fast-paced environment with humor, compassion and efficiency
  • Be able to communicate clearly, in writing and verbally, with people with different skill levels (you will be working closely with apprentices and seasonal workers)
  • Have the ability to keep your eye on our goals while paying close attention to details
  • Know when to do triage to get the job done (i.e know when to stop looking at the details!)
  • Have good organization skills (you have to like lists!) so that work areas can be maintained efficiently
  • Willingness to work to get the job done no matter if the hours are long – very important in mid-summer when we are always behind
  • Be able to work in all our southern BC weather conditions
  • Have experience using excel spreadsheets
  • Driver's license is useful

Responsibilities:

  • Co-management of year-round crop planting schedule – seeding, transplanting, planting, weeding, pulling out, bed prepping, harvesting, prepping for sale, stocking farm stand.
  • Co-supervise two apprentices and several seasonal laborers
  • Documentation of planting schedule – maintaining a journal and spreadsheets for all important dates in the planting schedule
  • Documentation of harvests for profitability analysis
  • Checking and maintaining fertility in all beds
  • Pest and disease management in all beds
  • Overseeing stocking and maintenance of farm stand
  • Helping to keep inventory of required production supplies
  • Co-maintenance of irrigation systems
  • Work closely with one of the owners (Mary) daily

Job term: Start date is first week of January through December 31. Vacation must be taken at the end of the year. Preference for applicants who would consider a permanent position.

Hours per week: January through March and October through December the job is roughly 40 hours a week, March through June and September through October the job is roughly 50 hours per week and some weeks in June through August could be up to 60 hours a week.

Wage: Pay is negotiable based on experience in the range $17-$20 per hour, includes 2 weeks paid vacation, WCB coverage, farm produce.

Housing: Salt Spring Island has a housing shortage. We provide housing for two apprentices and shared housing is available for you at a reasonable rent. The furnished cottage is well-appointed and well maintained – it has a washer/dryer, fully equipped kitchen, WIFI, two bedrooms, one bathroom, and all utilities are included. No pets please.

To apply:

Please send a cover letter and resume to Mary Laucks, mlaucks@telus.net . Please explain in your cover letter why you feel you are uniquely qualified for this job and write something about who you are, your goals and what makes you happy. What is your 5 year plan?

Please indicate you saw this posting at GoodWork.ca.
 

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Current status: Open/apply now.   Date posted: Nov 18 2021    ID: 61921