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Seeking: Homestead / Eco-farm Intern(s) or Couple
Type: work-trade in exchange for housing, food, learning, more (see below)
Farm: Plainfield Heritage Farm

Location: near Belleville, Ontario
Housing: private on-farm accom.

Dates: 3 to 6-month stay
Starting: November 2022

Would you like to live in nature on a vibrant, diverse organic 64 acres farm and homestead where you can fully experience the lifestyle?

Want to learn self-sufficiency skills like growing food, food preservation, fermentation, sourdough, cheese making?

Engage in strategies to mitigate climate change and build precious soil through practices like permaculture design?

What about the thrill of partnering with oxen to do work such as sustainable logging in our forests?

Be one of the many who have come through our year-round farm mentorship program learning strategies to live in harmony with nature through a wide variety of tasks & approaches. We offer you some unique experiences: we are the only farm in Canada teaching the traditional skill of working with oxen which are a viable, inexpensive alternative to a tractor on a small farm or homestead. Learn about sustainable logging practices and observe why oxen play a key role in that. Learn to care for cattle, geese and chickens, preparing the livestock, farm, homestead gardens and orchard for winter. Continue the work towards establishing our permaculture food forest. This season will be very busy with harvesting and preserving  so there will be much opportunity to do final planting, harvest, ferment, preserve and prepare a wide variety of foods off the farm. Learn how to make sourdough breads and your own cheeses. Learn the many roles of willow including harvesting, basket weaving, creation of living fences, water retention and windbreaks and vertical food production. Try your hand at basket or fence weaving with the willow varieties we grow specifically here on the farm. Help us with small carpentry projects. We strive to gear work towards your interests and learning objectives. 

Farm interns tell us they learn a lot; not only are the skills they learn here transferable to the larger world but, they discover they are far more capable than they imagine. You are encouraged to read the former farm intern reviews on our Facebook page. 

Part-time duties are varied and interesting. Tend to a variety of livestock with only limited stall cleaning; daily work with our oxen teams; maintain, harvest, and prepare the permaculture food gardens and guilds while assisting with our food forest build. Practice sustainable logging and firewood preparations. Help us rehabilitate hedgerows and historic fencing; learn strategies to keep water flowing in the dead of winter; minor farm R & M; seasonal preparations; food preservation; assist with an important one day local fundraiser being held at the farm to foster local food projects within our county.

You’ll leave with experiential understanding of the interdependence of ecology & organic food production with practical ways to help mitigate the impacts our changing climate has on food growing and on the ecology about you. You will have a clear understanding of why permaculture is a vital approach in using nature to foster food production on farms and on homesteads. You will appreciate regenerative farming approaches. You will have practiced self-sufficiency strategies and developed homesteading skills. You will be experienced with how to be around large animals, how to herd geese, how to read oxen/ how to be a respectful, effective oxen team leader: all within a cooperative, supportive, hands-on learning environment. 

This minimum 3-6 month stay opportunity is appropriate to an individual or couple who is not maintaining an off-site job and is willing to be predominantly on-farm. We are diversity friendly! Must be able-bodied, trustworthy, value the natural environment and care about animals. The right candidate has good self-awareness, values non-violence, cooperative approaches, possesses excellent observational skills, and is a dependable, independent self-starter. Many of our interns come with zero experience of cattle, carpentry, farm machinery etc. What is required is a willingness to try, possibly fail yet, keep at it until skills are learned. Steel-toed boots, working gloves and maintaining farm safety protocols are a must.

Accommodation is in a private apartment, newly renovated. Wifi available. Feel free to take online courses or connect with friends. Cell service works well here. Housing valued at $1000/ month plus mentoring plus food; work hours in lieu of rent are 4.5 hours 6 days a week) or 6.75 hours per couple. We will treat you like family: join us for dinner, as it suits you. Food is excellent, organic where possible and predominately our produce. In your downtime, work on your special projects taking advantage of the infrastructure here, receive talks, films etc on organic farming & marketing & sustainable living, learn willow basket making, bread making, cooking/ preserving. Walk our farm enjoying the varied habitats & trails. Our place is close to hiking trails, Frontenac Park, Bay of Quinte. Local tourist attractions & wineries within an hour's drive (covid permitting).  This is a great opportunity for people who are exploring organic food production, sustainable living, homesteading, writers, meditators, painters, readers, naturalists, bird watchers, or interested in intentional community. 

Farming and taking care of ecological land is serious work. It is not suitable for people who smoke, who cannot do sustained physical labour, or who need to make a lot of noise as we are conscientious to our neighbours.

Interested in the food business? My spouse has been working for decades in the natural food industry, had developed private labels so can speak to new food product development and trends within the natural food industry. 

Potential for future profit-sharing farm ventures such as market garden enterprise for the right candidates. We are also considering members for a future sustainable intentional community. One of our farm interns this year discovered and then went on to start a career in the organic food industry. Note that many of our interns return to us and form part of our farm-based community here. 

Our high-welfare heritage farm is 64 acres of meadow, coniferous & hardwood forest. It is truly a paradise. We are focused upon fostering the best in people and seek the same gentle care in return. Our major enterprises are heritage grass-fed beef, goose for table, oxen teams, registered heritage cattle. 

Do check out our Facebook page under Plainfield Heritage Farm for more photos, comments about our program from previous interns, videos and to get a sense of who we are. Here is a video of my oldest oxen pair logging.

If you have questions, call us at 613-849-7552.

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Current status: Open/apply now.   Date posted: Oct 15 2022    ID: 64670