2024 Seasonal Farm Apprentice / Youth Educator Position at Working Theory Farm

Company: Working Theory Farm
Location: Hillsboro, OR
Compensation: $20/hr
Employment Type: Internship / Apprentice
Job Categories: Agriculture, Nonprofit
Region: North Willamette Valley, Portland Area
Date Posted: January 9, 2024

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  • $20/hr + optional part time housing available
  • Seasonal, Part to Full Time – 30-40 hours per week, April through the end of October 2024
  • Interviews conducted and hiring decisions made in late February, 2024
  • Located near Century Blvd and TV Highway in South Hillsboro

About the farm:

At Working Theory Farm our mission is to empower youth through the shared work of farming to grow food for partner organizations who distribute this food to families in need. Through growing vegetables and raising livestock on our no-till organic farm, we provide employment, mentorship, and educational opportunities to underserved youth in Washington County.

We cultivate appx 2.5 acres of annual field vegetables and flowers, appx 1 acre of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, two 70’ long high tunnels for tomatoes, four 100’ caterpillar tunnels for other hot crops, a culinary and medicinal herb garden, and  fruit trees ranging from 5-75 years old. We also raise 10 hogs per year and a flock of 50 laying hens on pasture. In addition to the thousands of pounds of fresh produce we distribute annually through Centro Cultural’s Free Food Mercado, we have a small CSA and sell certain crops to our local New Seasons.

We practice an ever evolving form of regenerative agriculture where we aim to minimize soil disturbance. We do this with the liberal use of silage tarps to create stale-ish seed beds, laborious hand-scale  application of cardboard / compost / bark chips to form permanent beds and pathways, and cover cropping to increase organic matter and do all of the other great and beneficial things that cover crops do.

Youth are on the farm nearly every week of the year with different cohorts in the Spring, Summer, and Fall

alongside leadership roles like Crew Leads and an Operations crew. We also have regular mentoring and volunteer opportunities for youth through our community partners Harkins House and the HIllsboro School District’s Independent Transition Services. Our goal with all of these youth is to build relationships, offer safe and supportive employment, provide positive adult mentorship, and teach the lessons that farming is so good at teaching — creativity, problem solving, awareness, personal and social responsibility, resilience, and collaboration, to name a few.

In order to carry out this mission, our small team is in need of a supporting adult staff member to support all aspects of vegetable production and animal care, with occasional support for volunteer facilitation and regular, but limited aspects of youth facilitation.

We are committed to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, and building an organization where we live these values. Our programming is focused on uplifting youth and feeding community members who are facing injustice. Both the youth we serve and the community members we feed are primarily Latino. We encourage Latino folks, Black folks, Indigenous folks, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, women, immigrants, DACA recipients, and all candidates who have experienced injustice to apply.

About the position:

Most weeks will consist of four longer days (8-9 hours) which will have significant overlap with at least one of the farm’s full time staff, and one shorter independent chore day with additional independent tasks.

Description of day-to-day work :

  • Supporting all aspects of vegetable and fruit production — seeding flats and direct seeding, transplanting, pruning, weeding, harvest, trellising, wash/pack, sales and distribution, use of solarization tarps, managing overhead and drip irrigation systems, yearly set up and take down of the caterpillar tunnels.
  • Supporting all aspects of animal care — fencing set up and take down, feeding and watering the animals, egg collection, observing livestock for changes in behavior and health, identifying and troubleshooting issues with the livestock systems.
  • Small to medium scale machinery use – use of walk behind mowers, string trimmer, power tools including drills, drivers, and saws.
  • Volunteer facilitation — As a community resource and educational space, we host many groups during the course of a season, from Latinx elders to corporate volunteer groups. Candidates should be comfortable relating to diverse groups of people, while cultivating a positive, collaborative, inclusive environment.
  • Youth facilitation – The farm apprentice will have opportunities during the season to both co-facilitate and independently facilitate two of the farm’s youth programs. The programs have different focuses, and facilitator responsibilities will range from creating spaces for real talk to quality controlling work.

Physical Requirements and Environmental Considerations

  • Ability to repeatedly lift and carry 50lbs over short distances, walk over rough ground, bend at the waist, and squat repeatedly throughout the course of a full workday.  Emphasis on “repeatedly”. Each employee is encouraged to listen to and take care of their bodies as needed – for example taking water and stretch breaks. However the unavoidable reality of farming is that it’s very physically demanding work.
  • Willingness and ability to work in all weather conditions — through rain and cold in the spring and fall, and in hot weather in the summer. Appropriate gear helps to lessen any possible discomfort — We have boots and gloves available for use in a variety of sizes, and can support employees in acquiring the other necessary equipment (raincoat and pants, durable warm clothing, sun hat, etc.).

Skills, Experience, Qualities, and Capabilities

    • Experience working with youth, preferably teens, in a facilitator capacity
    • Experience with physical labor – prior farm experience a plus!
    • Comfort with and interest in operating small machinery
    • Comfort on ladders
    • Bilingual English/Spanish preferred but not required.
  • Compassionate with excellent listening, communication, and interpersonal skills 
  • Reliable, hardworking, motivated, excited to try new things

About the Part-Time Housing

There is a clean and tidy 27’ 5th wheel trailer available for part time habitation on the farm. Our ideal candidate would have their own off-site living situation but would be welcome to stay in the trailer a few days per week to help with the time burden and cost of commuting to the farm. The trailer has a full kitchen, hot water, electricity, wifi, and a RV style toilet that will need to be pumped out when the tank is full.