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Hiring: Organic Market Gardeners (full-season & part-season)
Farm: Aldergrove Organic Farm | Instagram
Location: Mount Forest, Ontario (north of Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph)
Housing: affordable on-farm accommodation is available, as well as some potential off farm options. See detailed description below
We are an organic market garden growing vegetables and cut flowers for farmers markets and various restaurants in the Toronto west end.
Our farm is located in beautiful Grey County close to lakes, rivers, hiking trails and a thriving organic farming community (2 hours from Toronto, 1 hour from Guelph, Kitchener/Waterloo, Collingwood, Owen Sound, Orangeville). We grow an extensive variety of high-value crops such as tomatoes, salad greens, annual and perennial cut flowers, legumes, garlic, onions, bunching greens, roots and tubers, seasonal specialties, and much much more. The farm is on 75 acres of hilly wild meadows, wetland, hardwood and cedar forests. We keep mixed livestock for personal use and a small apiary, though the vast majority of the land is kept as “permacultural zone 5” in an effort to nourish local wildlife habitat and promote biodiversity. In summer the sights and songs of at risk species like bobolinks and easten meadowlarks can be observed all around the gardens.
We are currently looking for two people to join our 2023 team. Ideal applicant understands and enjoys working outdoors under all weather conditions; is physically fit and able to perform tasks for long periods of time (including lifting heavy bins, repetitive tasks, standing and squatting, walking); learns quickly; follows directions; pays close attention to detail; enjoys working with others and by themselves; is curious with an interest in plant-based food production.
This job would be ideal for, but not limited to, individuals who aspire to start their own small-scale market farm.
Physical intelligence, strong work ethic and a positive attitude trump prior farm experience. However, experienced employees are generally preferred.
Over the broad scope of the season, most of the work is harvesting. Other tasks will include plant propagation, greenhouse management, bed prep, soil amending and improvement, seeding, transplanting, pruning, weed mitigation, inventory and record keeping. Going to market is optional.
Farm Systems and infrastructure
Our farming practice is a hand scale intensive market garden prioritizing soil health.
Perspective employees can expect to gain experience with the following tools and techniques:
We use the BCS two wheel tractor and a broadfork for working ground in our 1.5 acre garden. Weed mitigation is primarily done with occultation, pre-emergent flame weeding and mechanically with hoes. Transplanting is done by hand and with the japanese paper-pot transplanter. Direct seeding is done with various types of walk-behind precision mechanical seeders.
In an effort to move away from row cover and insect netting and to avoid the trappings of sus (organic approved) pesticides, we have begun experimenting with beneficial insects under the guidance of an IPM consultant and are moving towards using these programs where possible. Having had success with a few approaches so far we are planning on trialing something new this season in an attempt to address the leek moth problem.
We have just over ¼ acre of ground in protected culture. Our two biggest greenhouses have completely automated environmental controls. Our high-wire tomato and cucumber crops are extended season and done in lower and lean style which we keep pretty tidy and manage with the Dutch qlipr trellising system. In the edges of these structures, we grow high value cut flowers, and exotics like ginger, turmeric, figs, etc. We continue to push the boundaries of “what’s possible” in our zone 5b and are committed to doing so without burning fuel in the winter months.
Our irrigation system is high volume, in-ground, on demand and extremely accessible which makes the system management very easy. We use overhead in the fields mostly, drip only for long season crops. Programmable solenoid valves are used for indoor crops.
We use the crop planning program Tend, which really helps us stay on schedule. Staff will be given access to the program and are encouraged to explore as to better understand the ‘big picture’ of the season. We are yet to use the software to its full potential but are making steps one season at a time.
Our vegetable wash and pack station is in an old converted dairy shed. It’s small and well equipped. It’s below grade and insulated which makes it a cool spot to be on hot summer days.
We market weekly from May-November in an outdoor Toronto west end neighborhood market. We put a lot of effort into making our display big and beautiful and tend to move good volume there. It’s fun growing for a place like Toronto because of the cultural diversity and strong sense of community. Growing culturally significant foods on the request of our customers has become one of the highlights of the past few seasons. We love trying new things and enjoy the challenge of growing something we haven’t before. Bringing joy to people by growing their food is what energizes us. Farm staff are not expected to work the market stall because it’s such a long day with the driving, but it’s an option if interested and we recommend doing it at least once.
Over the years we’ve had the honour and privilege to work with some of Canada’s top chefs and restaurants. Their scrutiny of quality keeps us stiving for excellence. We also think it’s important to work with chefs who share our values as it feels like we are working together to change the broader cultural narrative about food. In 2023 we will continue to develop these relationships.
Accommodation and Social Culture
Our accommodation is unique in that we have a central shared staff kitchen, shower, outhouse, laundry, wifi and power access and charge a small fee for the use of these centralized facilities ($100/mo per person).
Sleeping arrangements can then be as rustic or comfortable as suits each individual’s needs. We find the balance of privacy and community a great combination.
Cabins: Our farm has 2 beautiful small (10’x10’ with sleeping loft) insulated, 4-season, on-grid cabins available for rent overlooking our pond and back forests. Fully furnished And one semidetatched unfinished 12’x24’.. $250/mo
BYOA: Bring your own trailer, tent, yurt, tiny house, etc. No additional charge to the $100/mo centralized facility fee.
We feel our accommodation options are pretty nice. The goal was never to profit off of them, and we don’t. We only want to offer something that is economically accessible, attractive and comfortable.
Local off-farm accommodations may also be available, just ask us.
Leisure: We have a recreation pond for swimming after long hot days in the field. As well as a wood fired sauna which is particularly nice during the cold season. Previous employees have enjoyed spending weekends and evenings canoeing and swimming local rivers and lakes, hiking, rural thrifting, preserving food, hunkering down with a book, spending the weekend in Toronto, having “family dinners” with farm residents, and visiting nearby farms.
Staff and residents have access to loads of fresh organic vegetables and oftentimes farm fresh eggs from our farm. Local cow share programs and other things like that also possible.
We are part of a thriving small organic farm community with a number of established, like-minded farms of different styles with young farm employees, interns and incubator farms. We think of them as an extended social and working culture for our staff to explore if desired.
A number of our employees have returned to work multiple seasons. Some, to start their own farm projects under our guidance and with the use of the land and infrastructure. Of our six years of employing people, we’ve now had four staff who have continued on to start their own farm!
We are currently hiring for 2 out of 5 farm positions:
Full-Season Farm Employee
Part-Season Farm Employee
We might be flexible for a couple wanting to fill both positions.
Send us an email to email@example.com with Subject "Employment 2023" and answer the following:
1) Your phone number and current address.
2) Are you between the ages of 18 and 30? (not required)
3) What is your availability in the time frame for the position you are applying for?
4) Are you able to work weekends and do you have any prior commitments that would bar you from working any days during the season?
5) How do you like to stay fit?
6) List all farming or any physical labour experience.
7) Are you available to come to the farm for an interview?
8) Do you have a current drivers licence (G2 or G)?
9) Do you have access to a vehicle for the season?
10) Are you a Canadian citizen?
11) Do you require on-farm accommodation?
12) Why do you want to work at Aldergrove?
Please indicate you saw this posting at FoodWork.
Eligible applicants will be asked to schedule an interview at their soonest convenience. References may also be requested.
Find us on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/aldergrovefarm/
Thank you for considering the position and we look forward to hearing from you.
Fraser and Glynis
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Current status: Open/apply now. Date posted: Jan 21 2023 ID: 66667