On Pasture readers have asked for information on how they can get started with interns for their farms or ranches. It’s a big topic that requires more than one article. So we’re going to ask for help from our readers as well. If you have experience with interns and apprentices and would like to share it as an article with your On Pasture community, drop me a note. We’ll work with you to get your experience out there.
Rogue Farm Corps is a non-profit organization providing on-farm training for beginning farmers and ranchers in Oregon. Their internship and apprenticeship programs are designed to train the next generation of farmers and ranchers through a structured, educational framework that includes on-farm training, classes, farm tours, discussion groups, and independent projects. Rogue Farm Corps assists farmers and ranchers in their program by advertising of positions, screening applicants, providing classroom training and ensuring that all labor and employment laws and standards are met.
Realizing that not every farm and ranch might have access to a program like this, several years ago Rogue Farm Corps received a western SARE grant to put together a Farm Internship Handbook to help producers who want to work with interns or who already have an internship program and are looking for ideas to improve it. The 10 page booklet covers:
• how to select an intern, including sample interview questions;
• creating successful relationships with interns using techniques for communicating well, providing a diversity of tasks, teaching tasks, ensuring that interns have context for why you’re doing what you’re doing, and that they have their basic needs covered;
• Development of your own farm policy so that interns have clear guidelines for time management, meals, time off, visitors, and more.
If you’re looking for places to work with or advertise your internships, the handbook provides these connections.
To this list I’ll add the Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program. If you know of other organizations or programs, do share them below.