In 2017 Natural Roots begins its twentieth season here at South River Farm in Conway. We are a diversified family farm. At present we have about 9 acres under cultivation in either mixed vegetables, berries, and herbs, or green manure and forage crops. We and our workhorses are the only source of power for all of the fieldwork. Our produce is marketed primarily through our CSA of about 200 families, with most of the surplus donated to a local food pantry. We also keep a flock of chickens year-round for egg production and raise two batches of meatbirds for farm use. We keep a breeding pair of hogs to turn compost and we raise their piglets for pork.
Workdays are a very full and rewarding 5 and 1/2 days per week. Basic workhorse care, handling, driving, and fieldwork are a major component of the apprenticeship as well as daily animal chores and pasture management. Some focus is given toward horse nutrition and health, harness fit and care, hoof care, and round pen training. Crop maintenance tasks include seeding, weeding, trellising, mulching, harvesting, and washing. During the summer we also make all the hay for our horses' feed, which is stored loose in the barn. Equipment repair and maintenance are important regular responsibilities. Management of our wood-heated greenhouse, soil fertility, extensive cover cropping, weed control, field rotations, and livestock health are important aspects of the apprenticeship as well. Simple farm construction and innovative projects abound. Food preservation, holistic farm management, and starting a farm business may be delved into as well, depending on interest. In addition to education on the farm, we encourage participation in the CRAFT program. This is a network of area farms which all have apprentices and offer extended learning opportunities through a schedule of rotating on-farm tours and seminars on varied topics.
Typically, two-three apprentices are employed from March through mid-December. Prerequisites include a minimum of one year of commercial vegetable production experience, a passion for learning, and physical aptitude. Accommodations are small, rustic cabins. All farm-raised produce plus staples are provided in addition to a monthly stipend. Worker's Compensation is also provided, as well as the locally available basic health services free to farm workers.
The farm is situated in the beautiful Eastern foothills of the Berkshire Mountains on the edge of the Pioneer Valley. There are limitless outdoor recreational opportunities right out the back door (literally) as well as a wealth of cultural resources within thirty minutes drive.
Please complete our application questionnaire and send with your resume and three references. After receiving your application we may contact you to schedule a farm visit.