Number of Workers Sought2
Type of FarmVegetable
Marketing StrategyCommunity Supported Agriculture, Farm Stand, Farmers' Market, Restaurant, Wholesale
Pay Rate$11-13/hr for 30 day trial/training period. Opportunity for wage increase upon review. 40 hours/week
Weekly meal stipend only for use @ The Sour Doe Cafe, 2 days off per week, free vegetable and bread subscription and 25% off all retail products @ The Sour Doe Café/Farm Store
Do you have a website, social media account, or job posting anywhere else?Yes
Online Listing URLhttp://www.fern-co.com, Instagram @fern_co.mt
Describe yourself, your family, background, farming experience, philosophy, goals and interestsAshlee and Jay met while they were both on climbing trips in California back in 2018. Ashlee is from British Columbia, and Jay moved from New England to Montana back in 2014. Jay received formal training on a 10-acre organic vegetable farm in Massachusetts. The 2022 season will be their 3rd year in operation in Montana. Ashlee and Jay’s philosophy is to grow healthy food on well-managed, minimally disturbed soil. They believe that farmers should receive the greatest return on their “gamble” each season, that is drought, pests, severe weather, and seed shortages. This belief inspired them to open a farmers’ owned café and farm store, called the Sour Doe, that will prepare and distribute locally produced food directly to the consumer. Providing education about agriculture and the food system to their customers and employees is a core goal of theirs. Their personal interests include paddling the river, rock climbing and adventuring with their dogs. A work/life balance is of great importance for a long career in farming.
Describe the physical setting of your farm and the nature of the community in which you liveWe have a rather unique setting in the Bitterroot. Located on the West side of the river, Fern Co is situated on 10 acres of mixed landscape. Lined with willow and alder, McCalla creek meanders through our property. This is a year-round creek; its source comes from an alpine drainage off the East side of St. Mary Peak, a massive mountain that dominates the Stevensville landscape. There are two greenhouses, a log cabin and a farm outbuilding. The town center is a short 5-min drive, but there is also a paved bike trail all the way into town from the farm. The two closest “cities” are Hamilton (20 mins) and Missoula (30min). The greater Bitterroot Valley offers endless recreation access to backcountry trails, mountain biking, climbing, fishing and floating the river.
Describe your farm operation
Currently, we operate a certified organic intensive market garden on about an acre of our 10 acre property. We grow a diverse array of vegetables, herbs, flowers and some fruits. This list includes early greenhouse tomatoes, squash and cucumbers, an educational opportunity not available at every farm. The primary means of mechanization is our walk-behind BCS tractor with a rotary plow, power harrow and flail mower. We have various hand tools for weed-management, cultivation and harvesting that increase productivity in a market garden setting. Some of our practices include cover cropping, crop rotation, low to no-tillage and mulching. We currently have a covered, outdoor processing facility for cleaning and packing produce, and an onsite walk-in cooler for storage. We grow all of our starts onsite in our heated nursery. A big part of our marketing strategy is to market directly to consumers through our CSA, farmers markets and our café/farm store. We believe that the public should be more intimately connected to their food system.
Describe the work to be performed by applicantThe farm work to be expected is essentially all-encompassing. A day in the life would include seeding (nursery and field seeding), nursery care, transplanting, cultivation, weeding, harvesting, washing/packing, irrigating, and/or assisting at farmers markets. Workers will maintain a high standard of organization. They will be trained to use mechanical equipment and hand tools. Additional tasks can include trellising/pruning of vine greenhouse crops, daily opening and closing of greenhouses, data collection and harvest recording, daily crop walks to determine pest pressure, disease, etc.
What do you expect of a worker?We expect 40 hours per week over a 5-day work week in all weather conditions. A worker must be able to repeatedly lift 50 lbs throughout the day. We mandate 2 days off per week for employee well-being in order to maintain consistent effort throughout the season. We expect our worker to be adaptable and maintain a high level of communication with management. The ideal worker will have a willingness to advance their knowledge of agricultural and related practices, and to provide consistent friendly service to our customer base. We expect communication WELL in advance if time-off is required during the season. We do expect our employee to work every week throughout the season as it is only a 6-month period.
Describe the learning and educational opportunities available to a workerThe worker will receive training directly from the farm owner with an expectation to become relatively autonomous with most tasks at the farm. This position offers great educational benefit for an individual aspiring to start their own farm one day. The worker can expect to learn the details of:
How to build a greenhouse
How to operate a diverse market garden
How to build soil structure and fertility, and why this is crucial for a profitable farm
A glance into financing a small farm
Are you a full-time farmer?Yes
Do you require a trial period or require a prospective worker to visit your farm before hiring?Yes
Explain the room and board arrangements or describe options in your areaWe currently have a Bigfoot truck-camper parked on our property complete with hot showers, electricity, a full kitchen and a queen size bed. This can be available to our full-time employee. Other options include parking your own trailer/camper with host-provided water, electricity and trash. Additionally, we have a wide network of people in the valley and we can assist with finding an offsite housing arrangement. We do not provide transportation outside of work-related business.
Please attach any photos of your farm and operation
Please share three things you think people should know about living with you.1) Open communication is key
2) We value the privacy of ourselves and others
3) Hope you like dogs! 2 medium-sized farm dogs.